Opening at the Arts Centre Melbourne’s Fairfax Theatre in March 2022, this entirely original stage adaptation of the iconic and provocative short story Yentl, is the first since the 1975 Broadway play, and the first new adaptation since the pop culture phenomenon that was Barbra Streisand’s 1983 musical film.

Set in a Polish shtetl in 1870, Yentl is the story of a young woman who defies Jewish orthodox tradition by secretly studying religious scripture, forbidden to females. When her beloved father dies, Yentl runs away dressed in male guise, determined to live as a man and continue her studies. She meets Avigdor, a young Yeshiva boy, who – believing her to be male – takes her under his wing where she convincingly lives as the impressive male talmudic student, Anshl. But when Avigdor introduces Anshl to the woman he loves, Hodes, Anshl’s life takes a surprising and dangerous turn. Soon, a fragile love triangle emerges when Yentl falls in love with both Avigdor and Hodes, and Avigdor finds himself attracted to the boy he believes is Anshl.

This bold and contemporary adaptation will be staged both in English and Yiddish (with English surtitles translated by internationally-renowned academic Professor Rivke Margolis), continuing Kadimah’s mission to bring Yiddish culture and language to a wide audience. This new adaptation of Yentl leans into the work’s feminist themes, examines its queer subtext, and explores its Yiddish roots in surprising and unfamiliar ways.

Featuring emerging actor Jana Zvedeniuk as Yentl (whose Russian/Israeli/Yiddish background made her an undeniable choice for her first major role) alongside award-winning actor Evelyn Krape (King Lear, The Ghetto Cabaret, Female Parts), this stellar cast and creative team relish the opportunity to explore Nobel Prize-winner, Bashevis Singer’s story through a contemporary lens.

Yentl headlines a year-long calendar of events celebrating Kadimah’s 110 years of continuous theatre, language and cultural programs. Today, the Kadimah is Australia’s beating heart of Yiddish culture, and home to the country’s largest Yiddish library and archive. The Kadimah Yiddish Theatre, led by Artistic Co-Directors Evelyn Krape and Galit Klas, presents challenging and contemporary bilingual theatre.

March 12 – 26