'Proximity is not a simple co-existence': An interventionist work at the haifa university theatre

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He production of Haifa/haifa, performed in winter 2011 at the Haifa University Theatre, based on Tamar Berger's essay Rooftop, Cellar, 1, 100 Stairs and Four-Way Exposure, directed by Helit Michaeli with Jewish and Arabic theatre students, was a piece of devised or 'post-dramatic' theatre. The title of the play hints at its general stance, not only by using both languages, Hebrew and Arabic (here represented by italic caps), but also by replacing the hyphen, symbolizing co-existence, with an unsettled slash. In this article Dorit Yerushalmi examines the various layers of Haifa/haifa: first, the literary context of Berger's essay; second, the participants' voices which reflect the whirlpool of interpersonal relationships in which they found themselves when confronted with conflicting narratives; and finally, the theatrical means of expression which comprise what, following Emmanuel Levinas, she terms the 'poetics of proximity'. As a case study, the Haifa/haifa project illustrates how an interventionist work in a university theatre may provide a shared space in which a new understanding of dialogical practice can be constructed-dialogue not merely as a meeting of equals but also (and mainly) a call for responsibility for the ongoing suffering of the others among 'us'. Dorit Yerushalmi is a lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Haifa. Her research interests include Hebrew-Israeli theatre history, theatre and gender, theatre and pedagogy, and interventionist theatre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-384
Number of pages15
JournalNew Theatre Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Arabic theatre
  • Hebrew theatre
  • Key terms proximity
  • asymmetrical relation
  • story-telling theatre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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