Directed by: Michal Govrin
Set: Frida Goldberg
Music: Max Stern
Costume: Judith Westmor
Performed by: Rachel Levi
In the Bloom of Her Days is a theatrical adaptation of one of S.Y. Agnon’s love stories. The play tells the story of Tirtza’s love for Akavia Mazal, the beloved of her mother’s youth. The story is narrated as a personal journal, in which Tirtza tells two love stories in parallel: her mother’s and her own. On the stage, a single actress describes the happenings befalling Tirtza from the days of her mother’s illness and death, until the time at which she herself is about to become a mother. The events are few, and are narrated with restraint and understatement, yet it is precisely these characteristics that accentuate the sense of destiny that pervades the story. The staging of In the Bloom of Her Days aims to translate prose into theatre without any reworking or dramatization, preserving the original literary language of Agnon.
(Extract from the programme)
“The staging [of this performance] is in character with the text. The set, by Frieda Goldberger, consists of a small table and chair flanked by an oblong standing mirror, and another small table holding a memorial candle – a symbolic presence of the dead mother. Rachel Levy speaks Agnon’s archaic Hebrew naturally, as if it were her own language; her gesturing and movements are reduced to minimum. There is a slight wonder in her voice, as if she didn’t entirely believe that all this had happened to her. It is a sensitive, honest and highly polished performance, an extremely difficult task beautifully carried out.”
(From: Mendel Kohansky, “Theatre”, Jerusalem Post, 23.12.1977)
Most attempts to translate Agnon into the language of theatre have so far ended in some degree of failure. In most cases, quiet, intimate reading of the Agnon text has proved a far deeper and more enriching experience than meeting the same text in its apparently enriched form on the stage. In the Bloom of Her Day is exceptional in this regard. We have here an extremely faithful transmission of the Agnon text in a highly introspective and delicate performance. Behind the restrained production of the play stands Michal Govrin, who guided the actress Rachel Levi and arrived with her at a clear and sensitive performative expression.
(From: Idit Zartal, ‘Introspective and delicate,’ At, January 1978)
This respect for the Agnon text succeeds in fascinating and touching the viewer more than all the reworkings I have seen. The main thing, after all, is still the work and not the actor or the theatre. In the Bloom of Her Day is a new phenomenon – indispensable and highly real. When one succeeds, in an evening at the theatre, to ignore the scenery and the beautiful costumes, to forget that one is dealing with an actress and acting, and to give way instead to the Agnon text – I believe one cannot possibly ask for a greater achievement.
(From: Michael Handsaltz, ‘By Virtue of Respect for the Agnon Text: In the Bloom of Her Day in the Jerusalem Khan Theatre,’ Ma’ariv, 19/10/1977)
Director Michal Govrin and actress Rachel Levi [with the help of stage designer Freda Goldberger and costume director Judy Westmor] have created a world of Agnonesque illusion and reality. Rachel Levi preserves in her acting all the restraint and understatement of the story, somehow accentuating the sense of destiny it conveys. […] The Jerusalem Chan stage could have been created for the dramatization of Tirza’s story. […] From Tirza’s single performance, all the other characters rise up before us full and alive. […] The play passes before us as if from a magic lantern – images by image. Everything is hinted at, nothing too direct.
(From: Tzafrira Levine-Nir, ‘Agnon on the Chan Stage’, Al HaMishmar, 9/11/1977)