Theater in Israel

The Israeli theater started back in the late nineteenth century when the early pioneers who came to Israel to build the country worked to establish a new local culture. The first theatrical performances considered the use of Hebrew of supreme value and a necessity for symbolizing the new settlement efforts of the country. The plays shown in the early days of Israel’s theater had historical Jewish connections and links with the socialistic pioneering Zionist concept. It was only in 1928, when Habima Theater, which was founded in 1917 in Russia, came to Israel to promoted classical plays.

Theater in Israel

The Israeli theater started back in the late nineteenth century when the early pioneers who came to Israel to build the country worked to establish a new local culture. The first theatrical performances considered the use of Hebrew of supreme value and a necessity for symbolizing the new settlement efforts of the country. The plays shown in the early days of Israel’s theater had historical Jewish connections and links with the socialistic pioneering Zionist concept. It was only in 1928, when Habima Theater, which was founded in 1917 in Russia, came to Israel to promoted classical plays.

Habima Theater has been operating continuously since 1917 and in the 1950s was crowned Israel’s national theater. The theater lies in Tel Aviv in the location that became its headquartersin 1945 andwhere it remains to this day. Initially, Habima Theater worked in a similar manner to that of the pioneers in Israel: a collective in which each actor shared profits, repertoire and management decisions. Upon arriving in Israel, Habima competed with smaller theaters working in Hebrew, and despite Habima showing primarily classical plays, in the 1930s it started to perform original Hebrew plays too. In 1945, the Cameri Theater, Habima’s great competitor was founded, with the aim of showing more modern plays in spoken Hebrew that signified a variation from the classic plays and heavy Russian accent that characterized shows at Habima.

Over the years, the differences between leading theaters became blurred, and in the 1980s, smaller theaters started to flourish in more distant areas and outside of major cities. While the central theaters worked on creating and producing plays, the more provincial theaters concentrated on making the theater more accessible to the public, effectively “acquiring” the shows that were being performed to perform them for residents of the peripheral zones of Israel. In recent years, we have been witnessing an attempt of young artists to break the borders of the national theaters and offer an alternative in the form of contemporary, risqué and daring plays, with more current interpretation of established plays. One of the more interesting theaters is in the town Dimona, in Israel’s south. Theatrical activity there is not something to be taken for granted and requires great courage and determination on the part of the performers , as well as having public openness and understanding.

Besides the leading theaters, smaller trends, such as fringe theaters, which are smaller have developed. Alongside the fringe field, one may also find Israeli Arab theaters. Two of these are currently operating in Israel: the Arab-Hebrew Theater and the al-Midan Theater. The Arab-Hebrew Theater has been operating in Jaffa since 1998, and is the home of two theatrical troupes that have been performing together in Hebrew and Arabic. Another theater that is noteworthy is in the Please Touch Center of Jaffa Port. The uniqueness of this theater lies in its actors. The theater was built in 2002 and serves as a home for actors, most of whom are blind-deaf. The theater’s plays afford viewers an artistic and social experience that changes their worldviews and bridges the stereotypes of deaf and blind communities.