Yiddish theatre

genre in theater

Yiddish theatre consists of plays written and performed primarily by Jews in Yiddish, the language of the Central European Ashkenazi Jewish community. The range of Yiddish theatre is broad: operetta, musical comedy, and satiric or nostalgic revues; melodrama; naturalist drama; expressionist and modernist plays. At its height, its geographical scope was comparably broad: from the late 19th century until just before World War II, professional Yiddish theatre could be found throughout the heavily Jewish areas of Eastern and East Central Europe, but also in Berlin, London, Paris, Buenos Aires and New York City. Yiddish theatre's roots include the often satiric plays traditionally performed during religious holiday of Purim (known as Purim spiels); other masquerades such as the Dance of Death; the singing of cantors in the synagogues; Jewish secular song and dramatic improvisation; exposure to the theatre traditions of various European countries, and the Jewish literary culture that had grown in the wake of the Jewish enlightenment (Haskalah). Israil Bercovici wrote that it is through Yiddish theatre that "Jewish culture entered in dialogue with the outside world," both by putting itself on display and by importing theatrical pieces from other cultures.Themes such as immigration, poverty, integration, and strong ancestral ties can be found in many Yiddish theatre productions.
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