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The Theater of Aaron Zeitlin

Hosted By: YIVO

Aaron Zeitlin (1898-1973) was 30 years old when he began to write plays for the theater. Up until then he primarily wrote poetry in long and short form, mostly inspired by Kabbalah. Through theater he sought to affect a broader audience with his mystical themes. In Warsaw from 1928-1938 he authored nearly a dozen works: dramas, comedies, and grotesque plays. In these works the abstract ideas are presented in the garb of concrete historical or contemporary circumstances.

Jacob Jacobson, a “grotesque play in four acts” (1931), depicts an imagined second world war in which the whole world is destroyed. Contrary to the materialistic perspective of the era when it was believed that the natural trajectory of history was perforce to give birth to a just world, this play indicates that in the absence of spirituality, the push behind history is in fact senseless bloodlust, and that Jews have no place in such a world.

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