Jewish Theatre

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theatre and dance quizWithin a generation or two, Jewish playwrights in America also began writing in English and contributing to contemporary American theatre. Elmer Rice, Clifford Odets, and Paddy Chayevsky, among other writers, introduced Jewish characters into plays that were intended for mainstream audiences, relating to universal themes such as immigrant families adapting to the new world, and the struggle to earn a living in America. American-born Jews began to seek out this kind of entertainment, rather than attending Yiddish theatre. By the end of WWII, the golden era of Yiddish theatre was over.

But other genres of Jewish theatre were still alive and expanding. While Jewish American playwrights like Lillian Helman, Arthur Miller, and Joseph Stein continued to thrive, the new state of Israel was also growing its own national theatre. Habimah Theatre, founded in Moscow and transplanted to Tel Aviv, became the theatre tradition of Israel in 1958. From the start, Israeli playwrights used the stage as a place to explore issues both personal and political.

Israeli playwrights such as Joshua Sobel, Hillel Mittelpunkt, and the late Hanoch Levin have all written about a culture confronting war and the possibility of living with a Palestinian state. Contemporary Israeli playwright Motti Lerner is carrying on their legacy, producing controversial works including The Murder of Isaac, about the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Though a fairly recent art form, Jewish theatre has, at a remarkable pace, become an established place for sharing our stories.

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