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Publisher Description

Jewish theater has followed a tortuous path from extreme rabbinical intolerance to eventual secular liberalism, with its openness to the heritages of both Judaism as a culture and prominent foreign cultures, to the extent of multicultural integration. Arguing that since biblical times until the 17th century, there are only examples of tangential theater practices, this account details the history of the creation and progression of Jewish drama and theater. It states that the initial intolerance, shared by the Church, was rooted in pagan connotations of theater rather than in the neutral nature of the medium, capable of formulating and communicating contrasting thoughts. Whereas by the 10th century the Church understood that the art could be harnessed to its own ends, Jewish theater was only created seven centuries later through spontaneous and amateurish theatrical practices, such as the Yiddish purim-shpil and the purim-rabbi. Due to their carnivalesque and cathartic nature, these practices were tolerated by the rabbinical establishment, albeit only during the Purim holiday. As a result, Jewish drama and theater emerged despite rabbinical antagonism. Under the influence of the Jewish Enlightenment, Yiddish-speaking theaters were increasingly established, a trend that became central in the cultural enterprise of the Jews in Israel. This process involved a renewed use of Hebrew as a spoken language and the transition from a profound religious identity to a secular Jewish one characterized by a basic liberalism to the extent of openness to cultures traditionally perceived as archetypal enemies of Judaism. This book sets out to analyze play-scripts and performance-texts produced in the Israeli theater in order to illustrate these trends and concludes that only a liberal society can bring about the full realization of theater’s potentialities.

Arts & Entertainment
October 1
Sussex Academic Press
Chicago Review Press, Inc. DBA Independent Publishers Group

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