The Dybbuk reconsidered - The emergence of a modern Jewish symbol between east and west

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In this paper four stations in the emergence of The Dybbuk as a pan-Jewish symbol will be delineated: first, the play itself, as written by S. An-ski in 1918; second, the Yiddish production of the play (by the Vilna Troupe, Warsaw and Vilna, 1920); third, the German production (directed by Berthold Viertel, Berlin, 1926) and fourth, the Hebrew production of the play (Habima, Moscow, 1922). The Dybbuk was written by An-ski in light of his ethnographic research. The play stood from the very beginning on the threshold between tradition and modernity. In 1921/22, it was translated and published in Germany. At the same time the Vilna Troupe performed the play in the Theater in Kommandantenstrasse, Berlin. In January 1926 Berthold Viertel's Dybbuk premiered in Kleines Theater in the city, and in October that year Habima performed her version of the play in Theater am Nollendorfplatz. Berlin, as a migration city, served as a single location that enabled the crystallization of a unified, yet polyphonic, modern Jewish symbol. The three major theatre productions of this play during the 1920s ghosted one another, thus expanding and thickening the symbolic goods contained in this play, and turning it into a concentrated cultural metaphor. Each new production blurred its formers - both containing them and replacing them simultaneously. Therefore the Habima production of The Dybbuk, the last important production that was put on in Berlin, crystallized and overshadowed all former productions of the play, and turned to be the remembered theatrical symbol of modern Jewish renaissance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBand III 2005
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783110942323
ISBN (Print)9783598247521
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2005 Simon-Dubnow-Institut Leipzig.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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