National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
AddressEdmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, NY, NY 10280
New York City
United States
TypeYiddish Theatre, Performing Arts

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, commonly known as NYTF, is a professional theater company in New York City which produces both Yiddish plays and plays translated into Yiddish, in a theater equipped with simultaneous superscript translation into English. The company's leadership consists of executive director Dominick Balletta and artistic director Zalmen Mlotek. The board is co-chaired by Sandra Cahn and Carol Levin.


Folksbiene (Yiddish: פֿאָלקסבינע, IPA: [ˈfɔlksˌbɪnə], People's Stage) was founded in 1915, under the auspices of the fraternal and Yiddish cultural organization Workmen's Circle,[1] on New York City’s Lower East Side, as an amateur theatre group with high artistic ideals.[2] It is the oldest consecutively producing theater company in the United States, English or Yiddish, commercial or not.[3] The era when it was founded is considered to be the height of Yiddish theater; at the time there were 15 Yiddish theatre companies in the Yiddish Theater District in New York and many more worldwide. Due to the destruction of European Jewry by the German Nazis, the Folksbiene is one of only five professional Yiddish theatre companies still in operation; also in New York City is the New Yiddish Rep, and the others are in Bucharest, Warsaw and Tel Aviv.[1]

In late 2017, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene announced that it would stage the American premiere of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, which has not been staged since its world premiere production in Israel more than 50 years ago.[4] It was announced in a March 2018 issue of Forbes Magazine that Academy Award winner-and-Tony Award winner Joel Grey would direct the production.[5] Their production Fidler Afn Dakh had its first preview on July 4, 2018.[6] The opening performance was July 15, 2018.[6] The production won the 2019 Drama Desk Award For Best Musical Revival.

The company's 2006 production of Di Yam Gazlonim, a Yiddish adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance, by Al Grand, was nominated for the 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Revival, and their 2012/13 Off Broadway production of The Golden Land was nominated for the 2013 Drama Desk Award for outstanding Musical Revival. In the summer of 2012, Folksbiene announced their plans to create an international Festival of new works in celebration of their Centennial in 2015. A play contest accompanying the festival was juried by producer Emanuel Azenberg; the Tony Award-winning composer and songwriter Jason Robert Brown ("Parade"), and the playwrights Joe DiPietro (Tony Award for "Memphis"); Obie Award-winning Israel Horovitz, and Pulitzer Prize finalist Jon Marans ("Old Wicked Songs").

A revival of the 1923 operetta The Golden Bride in 2015/16 drew press attention as a New York Times Theatre Critics Pick and garnered Drama Desk awards as well.[7][8] The Folksbiene was a producer on the 2015/16 Broadway play "Indecent."

In the Fall of 2017, the company staged an enhanced production of Abraham Goldfadn's The Sorceress as part of their restoration project – an endeavor that will restore lost or nearly lost Yiddish works to the canon of Yiddish culture.[9] A fully stage production was mounted two years later in December 2019.

In 2022, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene presented Harmony: A New Musical, the New York debut of the musical by Barry Manilow and his longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman. The musical tells the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, an ensemble of six talented young men in 1920s Germany who took the world by storm. The show ran at the Museum of Jewish Heritage from March 23 to May 8, 2022.[10]

Production history

See also


  1. ^ a b "History Archived 2019-03-06 at the Wayback Machine". National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. ^ Sandrow, Nahma (1996). Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press (first published 1977 by Harper & Row). ISBN 9780815603290. p. 258.
  3. ^ Shephard, Richard F. and Levi, Vicki Gold (2000). Live & Be Well: A Celebration of Yiddish Culture in America. Rutgers University Press. p. 56.
  4. ^ Passy, Charles (2017-12-21). "N.Y. Theater Company Will Present an All-Yiddish 'Fiddler'". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  5. ^ Levere, Jane (2018-03-16). "Joel Grey To Direct US Premiere Of 'Fiddler On The Roof' In Yiddish In New York This Summer". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  6. ^ a b "7 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  7. ^ Schleier, Carl (8 December 2015). "A classic Yiddish operetta, revived for a new generation". JTA. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  8. ^ Barone, Joshua (28 August 2015). "A Yiddish Operetta, Once Lost, Will Receive Its Full First Staging in 70 Years". New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  9. ^ "National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene to Revive Lost Yiddish Operetta The Sorceress". Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's Harmony Opens Off-Broadway April 13". Playbill.