Grigory Zeltser with the participation of Uri Gershovich
Based on the play by Yehuda Sommo (1527 - 1592) “Tsakhut Bdikhta de Kiddushin”
Director: Grigory Zeltser
Composer: Alexander Belousov
Cast: Uri Gershovich, Grigory Zeltser, Alena Timofeeva, Andrey Kaplanov.
The play “Engagement” was created on the basis of the first ever written play in Hebrew. Director Grigory Zeltser and Jewish thought researcher Uri Gershovich conducted a real experiment: the original text by Yehuda Sommo, the title of which is “Tsahut Bdikhta de Kiddushin” (lit. “An eloquent joke about the wedding”), was the subject of a detailed study as part of a two-year textual workshop . In an attempt to combine the complex of meanings obtained as a result of this work with the plot of the play itself, the text “Engagement” was created. It is this multi-level text that the audience will hear from the stage.
The Yehuda Sommo play, at first glance, is a farce - a comedy del arte about two lovers. The heroes are going to marry and have the consent of the parents, but the wedding is canceled due to the fact that, according to the letter received, the father of the groom who suddenly passed away over the sea writes off all his wealth to the slave, not his son. As a result, the mother of the bride convinces her weak-minded husband to refuse the orphaned and deprived of inheritance young man in the hand of his daughter and to find another groom for her. An avid rabbi intervenes in the plan of the bride’s parents to separate the lovers. He pretends to want to help lovers, but pursues his selfish interest. Heeding the advice of an avid rabbi, the young man is on the verge of death. But he is saved by a wise, true rabbi. He draws attention to the line of the will typed in small print: it says that the son has the right to take only one (but any!) Thing from the inheritance. On the advice of a wise rabbi, the young man takes a slave, along with whom he gets property temporarily belonging to the slave (after all, there is a law according to which everything that belongs to the slave automatically belongs to the owner of the slave). The will was made so as to protect the inheritance from squandering squanders. The legal subtlety of the father and the wisdom of a true rabbi save the happiness of young people.
This is the general outline. However, starting to translate and analyze the text of the play, Uri Gershovich and Grigory Zeltser found that the plot is nothing more than a cover for a witty and very deep treatise on the paths leading to a sacred marriage between Heaven and Earth, and, as a consequence, to universal salvation. In other words, inspired by messianic ideas, Yehuda Sommo, who believed that theater as such originates in the Bible, wrote not just a comedy, but a kind of play of plays aimed at effectively correcting the world order. And it is no accident that the author emphasizes the extreme importance of his step - writing a play in Hebrew. Upon closer inspection, the text of the play is a “patchwork quilt” woven from biblical and Talmudic quotes and allusions, each of which refers to a particular context. The clash of these contexts gives rise to senses that are intelligible to someone who is familiar with these sources, but hidden from the reader and viewer, to whom these sources are unknown in the original.
Thus, it became clear that a direct full translation of this play from Hebrew into Russian is impossible. Only an attempt to reconstruct and comprehend this play in a new quality and new context is possible, which, of course, can also be considered a translation, but in the broadest sense. So the text of Engagement was born and, due to the specifics of the material, a new presentation format was chosen: performance-lecture. The reading of the play (Grigory Zeltser) will be accompanied by comments (Uri Gershovich). Some fragments will be performed in musical form (composer Alexander Belousov, vocals - Alena Timofeeva, Andrey Kaplanov).