Mark Chagall and the Jewish Theatre in Moscow

A film by Frans Weisz

In 1921 the Jewish Goset Theatre opened its doors in Moscow. The Yiddish-speaking national theater was established with united efforts. It was a melting pot where many diverse talents of Jewish writers, artists and performers came together and inspired each other in this "meeting place of the arts." The young artist Mark Chagall, a friend of the artistic director of the theater, is asked to create the set design and costumes for three short stories that will form the opening performance of the theatre.

On its own initiative however Chagall decides to paint, in one month's time, the entire audience area (seven walls and the ceiling), and will thus create a unique synthesis between decor and costumes on stage and painted walls, ceiling and stage curtain in the room. "Chagall's diorama" was a feast for the eyes. Chagall said to the actors: "I want to make a miracle!"

After the glorious years in Moscow, the Jewish Theatre left in 1928 for a successful tour to France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. Back home in Moscow, the theater was faced with increasingly heavy criticism, increasing control and repressive cultural politics of the Stalinist regime. Many authors and players were executed between 1948 and 1952 on charges of "anti-Soviet nationalist activities".