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RESEARCH
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
OF JEWISH THEATER


Set design for Mazl Tov

Scene from Mazl Tov

Set design for S'Align

Costume design for Mikhoels

The first performance of EKT in Moscow was the "Evening of Sholom-Aleihem" on January 1, 1921, based on one-act plays of the classic writer of Yiddish literature - Agentn (Agents) and Mazltov (Good luck). Marc Chagall designed the sets for the performance. Chagall also painted the rags that were brought to him to make costumes and covered the actors’ bodies and faces with colorful dots. As Abram Efros (the repertoire director of the theater) tells it:

The actors thus perceived as moving Chagall’s figures. This coincided with Granovskii’s theory that, since the normal human state is silence, actors should pop up out of silence and go back to it. Efros wrote regarding the performance of "Evening of Sholom Aleikhem":

This was contrary to the usual concept of theater as a 3-dimensional, dynamic art. But Chagall’s new vision of actors which provided another degree of animation in a two-and-half-dimensional space, would dominate the later theater’s productions. Chagall left EKT in 1921 due to Granovskii’s rather authoritarian style of leadership. (Excerpt from article by Benjamin Harshav in "Marc Chagall and Jewish Theater". New York, 1991).

A.Efros wrote about the influence of Chagall on the formation of the art of GOSET and on its individuality in the early years of the theater: "He [Chagall] did not set any conditions, but he also did not accept any directions ... Chagall forced us to pay the most expensive price for the Jewish national form of scenic expression ... he was the clear and indisputable victor, and, in the end, the young Yiddish theater had struggled because of this victory" (Abram Efros. Khudozhniki teatra Granovskogo. Kovcheg, no. 2. Moscow — Jerusalem, 1991, pp. 229 — 232). After all, Chagall left for the young Yiddish theater a difficult task of comprehension of his images and ideas and of embodiment of Chagall’s "two-and-half" dimensional vision to the multidimensional vision of the theater.