The Goethe-Institut Washington, in partnership with JxJ Arts Festival and Theater J’s Yiddish Theater Lab, presents a staged reading of Yankl the Blacksmith (Yankl der shmid)
by David Pinski, translated by Nahma Sandrow and directed by Adam Immerwahr.
A psychological domestic drama that "feels" modern, not only in its language and construction, but also in its concerns with class, marriage, and the status of women. Yankl, a handsome, womanizing, inarticulate blacksmith, with depths he is dimly aware of but cannot develop, falls in love with the sensitive and well-bred Tamara, and marries her. He resolves to transform himself into a faithful husband and upstanding citizen, but the couple rent a room to Rivke, a passionate woman who has left her husband. This endangers their own marriage, as their honest, affectionate conversation becomes constricted into oblique fencing and denial.
Originally written and performed in 1906, Yankl the Blacksmith
was translated by Nahma Sandrow (from whose website this summary was sourced).
, author and critic, was the "grand old man" of Yiddish letters. For many years, he was the President of the Yiddish writers' section of PEN International. Pinski was famed for his psychological explorations of character, especially in relation to sex. A film version entitled The Singing Blacksmith
(1938), transformed into a musical comedy, is still screened rather often. The translation by Nahma Sandrow was subsidized by a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship.
is the author of Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater
, now in its third edition and still the definitive work in the field. Her other books include God, Man, and Devil: Yiddish Plays in Translation
and Surrealism: Theater, Arts, Ideas
. In addition, she has written feature articles for the New York Times
, the New York Sun
, and other newspapers, magazines, and journals. Dr. Sandrow lectures widely. She has spoken at universities such as Harvard and Oxford, as well as the Smithsonian Institution and many other academic and cultural organizations. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Yale School of Drama.