Profile – Yulia Ginis, Founder Mystorin Theater

The accident: I had been living in Israel and working as a painter for many years, specializing in pastels. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to get an academic degree, but felt that Bezazel was not for me. I decided to study at the School of Visual Theater in Jerusalem. Although I was from a religious family, and my parents have been Ba’alei Tshuva (newly religious) since I was a small child, through my studies I found a new connection to Jewish culture through art.  Some of the people who taught there were very involved in this subject in Israel, for example Dr. Michal Govrin, who very much inspired me.  When working on my final project, I created a performance which connected Talmudic and Midrashic texts with my own personal story as a girl growing up in a refusnik family in Moscow.  This is the only performance where I played myself!   I found a special connection to my childhood, to the Jewish culture I had grown up with, and to a new artistic outlet.

Yulia was born and raised in Moscow until the age of 13.  In 1986, she and her family immigrated to the US and were reunited with her grandparents who had been living in the US since the late 1970’s.  Three years later, Yulia made Aliya to Israel.

Yulia and three other actors were invited to perform her final school project, the play she called Mystorin, in Serbia. Much to her surprise and delight, the Serbian audience completely understood and felt connected to the Talmudic stories, as well as to the video projections of Hebrew letters.  “Mystorin” was later adopted as the name of the theater group that Yulia founded.

In 2006, Mystorin began working on a follow up project “Synagoga”, which was a collaborative effort between Mystorin and the cultural organization that produced Mystorin’s first performance in Serbia.  This new performance celebrated the beautiful ancient synagogue  found in Novi Sad. The performance included both Israeli and Serbian actors, and indirectly addressed the Holocaust using the story of Rabbi Akiva and his students.

Since its founding, Mysotrin has performed both indoors and out, throughout Israel, Poland, Romania, Finland, Russia, Armenia, and even Africa.

Currently, Mystorin is involved in a numerous outdoor productions, scheduled throughout  the year, at  many locations in Israel.  One of their most exciting challenges is the upcoming performance planned for the Lahav forest, at a site that was severely damaged during Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

This performance, “Follow the Red Dragon”, is a theatrical quest to find a magical Red Dragon. During the performance, which is scheduled to coincide with Purim, the Lahav Forest will turn into a magical land populated by four meter high puppets dressed in amazing costumes that were especially designed for the occasion. An ensemble of professional actors, dancers and musicians, will offer visitors an unforgettable experience of culture and fresh air.

One of our ongoing challenges,” says Yulia, “is to raise funds for our initiatives which involve creating site specific performances that have spiritual and emotional importance.  Even before Operation Pillar of Defense, we had been looking to create performances in southern Israel.  Just as there was a connection to the Synagogue in Serbia, and the central square where we performed in Krakow, Poland, we have a special connection to the Forest.  For one day, we want to create a magic kingdom in the forest for everyone who lives in the region.  People visit the forest to see anemones and to spend a day outdoors.  For 4-5 hours, the forest will become a live fairytale where visitors will have the opportunity, with every step, to encounter something new. Many people have expressed their interest in giving something special to those who live in the south. We hope that our crowdfunding campaign will provide just such an opportunity.

“Crowdfunding” is a collective effort of individuals who by networking with their friends and acquaintances support both nonprofit and for profit efforts initiated by other people or organizations.  Mystorin’s crowdfunding campaign for “Follow the Red Dragon” can be found here.

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