moni yakim
creating a character
contact moni
Brief Bio
Moni Yakim began his theatrical career in his native Jerusalem. Joining the Massach Theatre at age fourteen, he appeared, over a span of seven years, in numerous productions such as Shaw’s Arms & The Man, Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Moliere’s Scapin and in Israeli plays premiered by the company. He also formed his own “Reim” quartet for which he wrote playlets, skits & songs, touring all over Israel. After his military service, he made his way to Paris where he studied the French classics with the famed director/actor/teacher George Wilson at the Theatre Nationale Populaire and with Etienne Decroux, creator of modern Mime. He became a principal in Decroux’s company, performing such Mime classics as “The Trees,” “The Factory” and “Lance Thrusts.” Later, while working with Marcel Marceau, he met his wife and artistic partner Mina, who was studying at Marceau’s school. He also joined Theatre Franco Allemand, touring France and Germany with Buchner’s Woyzeck and Leonce and Lena and Plautus’ Pot of Gold. For the Cité Universitaire he directed plays by Guelderode and Lorca. It was there that he was noticed by the legendary Stella Adler, who urged him to study with her. She arranged for him to come to New York as her student and to teach physical acting at her conservatory. In the U.S., Moni Yakim established himself as a unique director and as a Master teacher who became a founding member of the Juilliard Drama Division.

Full Bio

Called by John Houseman, “a complete and vital man of the theatre,” Moni Yakim began his theatrical career as an actor in his native Jerusalem. In Paris he was a principal performer with the Etienne Decroux Mime Company and has worked with Marcel Marceau. For the Cité Universitaire he directed plays by Buchner, De Guelderode and Lorca.

Mr. Yakim was founder and artistic director of the New York Performance Theatre Center during its twenty–five year history. He directed Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at the Village Gate, on Broadway, in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Toronto, and for about a dozen other companies across the U.S. for which he received the award of directorial excellence. Off–Broadway, he directed Equinox, a new play by Mario Diament, conceived and directed Tickles for Tuckolsky based on the works of Kurt Tuckolsky. He also directed Counterpoint Songs with Chad Mitchell, conceived and directed An Evening of Songs by Marc Blitzstein, and directed I Love Thee Freely, a play by Ben Zavin. For the Unbound Theatre’s inaugural production, he directed the company in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood at the Kraine Theatre. He recently conceived and directed Pollock, a one–man play based on the life of Jackson Pollack at 78th Street Theatre Lab, and for New York Fringe Festival he directed ...I Can Cry, a docudrama by Miri Ben–Shalom. He choreographed and was featured in the Jacques Brel film.

Mr. Yakim co–wrote and directed Let Us Fly, a musical based on the life and songs of Russian poet⁄singer Vladimir Vysotsky at London’s King’s Head Theatre. He directed Shakespeare’s The Tempest for the Yale Rep Theatre and was associate director of Henry V for the Stratford Theatre and for Broadway’s Anta Theatre. Other directorial achievements include J.S. Bach’s The Contest Between Phoebus and Pan for the Stony Brook Festival and at N.Y. Merkin Hall, Hindenmith’s Hin und Zuruck, Dvorak’s Rusalka for the American Opera Center as well as for the Boston Concert Opera, and L’Histoire du soldat for which he received the Columbus First Cultural Award. For the Metropolitan Opera Studio he directed La Boheme, Gianni Schicchi, and From Vienna to Broadway which he also conceived. He directed Rigoletto for the Lake George Opera Festival and Don Pasquale for the Juilliard Opera Center. Mr. Yakim created the movement for the film Robocop, as well as its two sequels, Robocop II and Robocop III.

For the Juilliard Theatre he directed The Ninth Circle, a new play by Jan Hartman, Wind in the Willows, a play with songs, Happy End by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, Moliere’s The Would–Be Gentleman. Wrote and directed In The Realm of Chelm, a play with songs, The House of Bernarda Alba by F.G. Lorca, Ionescapade by Eugene Ionesco, The Girl From Maxim’s by George Feydeau, The Enchanted by Jean Giraudoux and Nash On Nash by Odgen Nash. He adapted Along the Long, Long Road from a story by Wolfgang Borchert and directed it at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre and at La Mama.

He directed Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, J.C. Grunberg’s The Workroom, Schnitzler’s La Ronde, Ostrovsky’s Diary of a Scoundrel, and The Rose, a celebration of songs by Amanda McBroom for Circle in the Square Professional Workshop.

For his own Performance Theatre Center, Mr. Yakim conceived, directed and starred in about twenty–five productions that included Walk into Night, Rape, La Boutique Fantasque, The Emperor’s Nightingale, and Tales of the Goat Man. Moni is at present directing And Give Us The Shadows, a play about the last years of Eugene O’Neill written by Lars Norén, the foremost Swedish playwright. Other productions underway include Moni’s adaptation of The Wannsee Conference — 1942, a reading of which took place at Circle in the Square Theatre. Moni is also collaborating with celebrated Israeli playwright Joshua Sobel on David, a new musical about King David.

Currently, Mr. Yakim heads the Movement Department at the Juilliard Drama Division where he has been teaching since its inception in 1967. He also teaches physical acting at Circle in the Square Theatre School. He taught acting at the American Opera Center, physical characterization at the Stella Adler Conservatory, and led the movement department at the Yale Drama School.

As a guest master teacher, he conducted seminars in London, Moscow, Vienna, Hong Kong, Oslo, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and has been invited to lead sessions of his method of acting in universities and drama schools across the United States. He is the author of the widely read book Creating a Character: A Physical Approach to Acting. He is the recipient of ATME’s (Association of Theatre Movement Educators) Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to theatre movement.

Mr. Yakim served on the Screening Committee for the Fulbright Scholarship Foundation and as Artistic Consultant and Panelist for Affiiliate Artists.