Lia Koenig was celebrated as the First Lady of Israeli Yiddish Theater for her ability to transform herself into characters as varied as Anne Frank and Mother Courage. The child of two noted actors, Koenig did not pursue acting herself until age seventeen, when her new husband, actor Zevi Stolper, encouraged her to explore the profession. She trained at the Bucharest Yiddish State Theater and came to be known for her 1957 performance of the lead role in The Diary of Anne Frank. She immigrated to Israel in 1961 and earned the Joseph Klausner Prize in 1962 for playing Eve in Aaron Megged’s Genesis at Habimah Theater. However, Israeli theater aesthetics of the 1960s favored a subtle, realist style over Koenig’s powerful theatricality, and she languished in the company for almost a decade, cast only in bit parts. Finally, she was cast in two major roles, the old lady in Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs (1970) and the title role in Brecht’s Mother Courage (1975). Critics raved about her performances and blasted Habimah Theater for not casting her more often, leading to a sudden flourishing of her career. In 1986 she was awarded the Israel Prize for her contributions to Israeli culture, followed by the Israel Theater Prize for lifetime achievement in 1999 and the EMET Prize in 2012.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Lia Koenig." (Viewed on December 11, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/koenig-lia>.