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Introductory Essay: What Is Jewish Theatre?

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Chapter Summary

Today, most of what seems to belong inarguably to the rubric "Jewish theatre" comprises two distinct bodies. The first includes works in non-Jewish languages that are essentially considered part of the theatrical culture of the respective countries within which they were created and which occasionally enter our global theatrical culture. The second group consists of works of the Israeli stage, mostly, though not solely, performed in Hebrew. These are produced primarily by Jews for Jews and are strongly connected to various concerns and issues of Zionism and Israeli reality. "What is Jewish theatre?" and "Is there Jewish theatre?" are challenging questions laden with issues of identity. Though may be unable to reach a consensus regarding the nature of "Jewish theatre" the very act of problematizing and debating the term deepens our understanding of a most important aspect of Jewish creativity and identity.

Keywords: Hebrew; Israeli stage; Jewish theatre; non-Jewish languages; theatrical culture; Zionism



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