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Moscow State Jewish Theater

The Moscow State Jewish Theater (Russian: Московский Государственный Еврейский Театр), also known by its acronym GOSET (ГОСЕТ) was a Yiddish theater company established in 1919 and shut down in 1948 by the Soviet authorities.

Originated before the Bolshevik revolution as the Jewish Theater Workshop directed by Alexander Granovsky, in 1918 it attracted Solomon Mikhoels who became the leading actor and, as of 1928, its director. The design of GOSET's foyer, as well as decorations sets and costumes for its first production were done by Marc Chagall.

The theater's repertoire included adaptations of Sholom Aleichem, such as Tevye the Milkman (also adopted in the West as Fiddler on the Roof), and of Avrom Goldfaden, such as Bar Kokhba, as well as works by contemporary Soviet Yiddish writers, such as Perets Markish and Dovid Bergelson. The theater also performed William Shakespeare's King Lear to great acclaim. Many of the theater's plays were ostensibly supportive of the Soviet state, but closer readings suggest that they actually contained veiled critiques of Stalin's regime.

In January 1948, Mikhoels was murdered by the MVD, and his death was made to look like a car accident. Months later the theater was shut down, and the members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (also headed by Mikhoels) were arrested. At least thirteen prominent Soviet Yiddish writers were executed on August 12, 1952 in the event known as "The Night of the Murdered Poets" ("Ночь казненных поэтов").

See also


  • The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage by Jeffrey Veidlinger, review
  • The Travels of Benjamin the Third by Ala Zuskin-Perelman (the daughter of Benjamin Zuskin and Eda Berkovsky) with photos, review

External links

  • Moscow State Jewish Theater Archive (GOSET) in RGALI is available on microfilm
  • Moscow State Jewish Theater Archive (GOSET) in RGALIFinding Aid to (in English and Russian)
  • Where the Tsar banned Yiddish theater, the Soviets would subsidize it
  • Marc Chagall and Moscow State Yiddish Theater (GOSET), 1920s Image gallery
  • Moscow State Yiddish Theatre correspondence, 1928, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

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