The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Moni Yakim and Mina Yakin

Moni Yakim and Mina Yakin

Mimes, Actors, Directors, Playwrights

Interviewed on: Thursday, June 9, 2016
Location: Their Home
Interviewed by: Sally Plass
Interview #67
"That’s all I want to do in my life is to become a mime."
Mina Yakin & Moni Yakim Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 25 seconds
Mina Yakin & Moni Yakim Interview Part One
Video Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Mina Yakin & Moni Yakim Interview Part Two
Video Length: 1 hour, 1 minute

Both Moni and Mina met through Marcel Marceau while students in Paris. Both had migrated from Israel to study there. Moni, a principal performer with the mime Etienne Decroux’s company, was seen by Stella Adler who was in Paris. Amazed by his talent, she told him to join her in New York and facilitated his visa. Mina had already been working on her visa and followed him later. Together they formed a mime company and became the hit of the town. Moni was asked to take on the challenge of putting the songs of the Belgian singer and songwriter, Jacques Brel, in order. This later became the musical hit that he directed, JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS (1968) at The Village Gate.  The show was eventually turned into a film, which he choreographed. Both Moni and Mina taught at Circle in the Square and founded the New York Performance Theater Center, where they conceived, directed, and acted in over 25 productions. Moni also taught at the Stella Adler Conservatory and was asked to join the Juilliard School, at its formation, by John Houseman in 1967, with Mina soon to follow. Moni is also the author of “Creating a Character: A Physical Approach to Acting”and has taught his master classes in London, Moscow, Vienna, Hong Kong, Oslo, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, as well as in the United States.

Much of Moni’s directing work happened within a two block radius in Manhattan, from The Village Gate to The Provincetown Playhouse;  his works include: COUNTERPOINT (1968), I LOVE THEE FREELY (1973), TICKLES BY TUCKOLSKY (1976), EQUINOX (1984), AN EVENING OF SONGS BY MARC BLITZSTEIN (1995), UNDER MILK WOOD (2003), THE WORKROOM (2005), POLLOCK (2010),and ALONG THE LONG, LONG ROAD at The Kraine Theater, The Unbound Theater, 78th Street Theater Lab, The Village Gate, The New York Fringe Festival, The Village Gate, La MaMa, Circle in the Square, The Bitter End, and Theatre Resources. He has also directed at Yale Rep Theater, the Stratford Theater, Merkin Hall, American Opera Center, Boston Concert Opera, the Metropolitan Opera Studio, Lake George Opera Festival, the Juilliard Opera Center and Juilliard School Drama Division, Circle in the Square, and La MaMa.

Mentioned in Interview

JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS, POLLOCK, I LOVE THEE FREELY, TICKLES FOR TUCKOLSKY, EQUINOX, AN EVENING OF SONGS BY MARC BLITZSTEIN, UNDER MILK WOOD, LET US FLY, ZOYA’S APARTMENT, CUSTODY, THE POWER, Stella Adler, Marcel Marceau, Etienne Decroux, Echard Schall, Martha Schlamme, Berliner Ensemble

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