The Star that Fell into a Tear: The day Yiddish theatre collapsed on stage

Diego Rotman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Yiddish comedian Shimen Dzigan collapsed on stage on 5 April 1980, in the Ohel Shem Theatre, Tel Aviv, Israel, in front of the 1,000 spectators gathered for the second performance that evening of Doktoyrim heysn lakhn (Doctors Prescribe Laughter). This article deals with the collapse and consequent death two weeks later of Dzigan on stage, with an examination also of the simultaneous downfall of three iconic figures from Yiddish modern culture: Sholem Aleichem, the writer of the piece Dzigan was performing; Menakhem-Mendl the character; and Shimen Dzigan the actor. Dzigan's status as the last living representative of Yiddish theatre in Israel caused many to interpret his physical collapse as the metaphorical end of the Yiddish theatrical tradition. In this article I offer an alternative interpretation of Dzigan's death and the afterlife.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)156-159
Number of pages4
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

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