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May 12, 1978 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-05-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

48 Friday, May 12, 1918

THE DETROIT JEWISH MIS

Hebrew Theater History Traced to Moscow

mediately following the
establishment of the state
of Israel in 1948, and the
mass izatnigration which
JERUSALEM — Sixty-
followed. The Govern-
five percent of Israel's popu-
ment and the powerful
lation regularly attend
Histradrut labor union
productions of repertory
embarked then on a joint
theaters based in Tel Aviv,
project meant to help
Jerusalem, Haifa and
bring about the speediest
Beersheba as well as those
possible cultural integra-
of a number of commercial
tion of the new immig-
theaters and small groups.
rants; not an easy task,
Were a similar proportion of
considering the fact that
Americans to frequent the
the majority came from
theater in the United
countries of the Orient
States, we would be witness
with a culture much dif-
to an incredible theatrical
ferent from the prevail-
explosion.
ing Western culture of the
The phenomenon is at-
older settlers.
tributed to the social
Now, however hundreds
structure of Israel's popula-
of thousands who, in the
tion. While in America the
countries of their origin, did

not know what theater was,
either because theaters did
not exist there or because
the future citizens of Israel
had no access to them, ac-
quired the habit of theater-
going.
Though Israel is no limger
a country of mass immigra-
tion, Omanut Le'am con-
tinues to function: every
day of the week, companies
from the large cities travel
to development towns and
other small places to per-
form at reduced, subsidized
prices, and, Israel being a
The Jerusalem Theater is one of the capital's major small country, no matter
attractions. The theater, which doubled as the press where the performance
center during Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel, takes place, actors can leave
has a regular series of drama and music, and is one of their homes in the after-
the host-theaters of the annual "Spring in Jerusalem" noon and sleep that night in
their beds.
festival of music and drama.

By 'KENDAL HOHANSKY

Jerusalem Post
Drama Critic

rural population hardly
ever gets to see a show, in
Israel it is the farmers,
members of kibutzim or of
cooperative villages who
are the privileged ones, be-
cause their communal or
cooperative living includes
an organized system of cul-
tural life.
In the cities many buy
their theater tickets, at re-
duced prices, through their
unions, and in the outlying
places, the so-called de-
velopment towns, theater
attendance is facilitated
through an organization
called Art for the People —
Omanut Le'am.
This organization goes
back to the days im-

We of Congregation Beth Shalom

add our words of prayer and hope

on this momentous occasion

By the Grace of the Lord
has this been done;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord hath made;
On it we will rejoice & be glad.

Psalm 118

The Hebrew theater
did not evolve from a folk
tradition, as it did in
other countries; it was
created about 60 years
ago by a group of people
consumed by Zionist zeal,
intent on contributing to
the revival of the Hebrew
language. On the evening
of Oct. 8, 1918, in Moscow,
several dozen persons,
Jewish and non-Jewish,
most of whom did not
know a word of Hebrew,
gathered in a small,
shabby studio to witness
the first performance of
the newly created
Habima company, which
had the blessings and
patronage of Konstantin
Stanislaysky.
He had become fascinated
with the idea of a company
performing in what was to
him an exotic language, and
readily consented when the
initiators came to ask for his
help.

Fourteen years later
Habima, a celebrated theat-
rical company, applauded
and feted in Moscow, Berlin,
Rome, Vienna, London, and
a total failure in New York,
came to settle in, what was
then, Palestine. By then,
several Hebrew theaters,
representing various ap-
proaches, were in existence,
including a "workers' thea-
ter" which intended to per-
form only plays of proleta-
rian contents but settled for
biblical plays. When Israel
gained independence, there
was already a very lively,
multicolored theatrical life
in the country, mass immi-
gration supplying increas-
ingly large audiences.
Now, 60 years after that
momentous evening in
Moscow, the Hebrew thea-
ter is very much part of life
in Israel, and theaters are
full.
The repertory of the
subsidized theaters is
just about the same as
one can find in any state
or municipal theater, in
addition, of course, to
local plays. In an average
season a theater-goer will
have the opportunity to
see one or two Shakes-
pearean plays, a sprinkl-
ing of Ibsen, Chekhov,
Brecht and other classics
of the modern era, an oc-
casional Greek tragedy
or comedy, usually in a
modernized version and
many contemporary
plays from Broadway or
London.

enjoy a great success with
the public.
The oldest of them is Nis-
sim Aloni, whose enigmatic
plays are characterized by
beatuy of language, an aura
or poetry and a humor of all
their own. Probably the
most popular playwright is
Hanoch Levin, an 'angry
young man' who has
slightly mellowed in the
past year or so, whose pes-
simistic plays attack almost
everyone within sight, and
especially the middle class,
the government and
women. Yehoshua Sobol,
who started out by writing
documentaries, has blos-
somed out as the theatrical

When the Lord brought
back those that returned to
Zion, it was like a dream.
— (Psalms 126:1)

a

T i

We
Salute
the State
of Israel
and her
poeple on
their

30th
Anniversary

Happy
Birthday

In the past two decades or
so the Israel theater suc-
ceeded in producing a
number of highly accom-
plished playwrights who

This Place is Necessary for
our Children
It is a unique place
No other tract of land at-
tracted
so many hearts to it.
And so many nations co-
veted it,
So much so that their desire
turned the land into desola-
tion.
— Theodor Herzl

spokesman for the young
generation, his plays deal-
ing mainly with the prob-
lems of war and peace. A
number of Israel's theaters
provide simultaneous
translations of Hebrew
stage productions.
Hotels can help visitors
obtain theater tickets which
are in especially heavy de-
mand for the annual
"Spring in Jerusalem"
(April-May) and "Israel
Festivals (July-August) of
Music and Drama."

Modern Office,Inc.

Mks

642-5600

31535 SOUTNPELD ROAD...n_szo
iAD "-fri p

(11.4.4 13 114 Me

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