As the curator for the upcoming Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas, I am confronted by an old question that often comes up at the Association of Jewish Theatre: what is Jewish theater?
I am tempted to answer in the way the Supreme Court once defined pornography: I know it when I see it. But that is of course subject to the question: is what I would call Jewish theater what someone else would define in the same way?
But perhaps that question is one reason for a festival. When I produced the Havel Festival, I didn't necessarily know what made a play essentially Havellian. Of course, the easy answer is that they are all written by the same man. But what makes gives one playwright's output a signature flavor? Is it something innate to Havel that comes out in his plays? Something innate to the time and place from which he writes? The more I watched the plays, the more I noticed similar themes, themes that spoke to each other across the plays, so that each play I saw deepened my appreciation of the next.
Will the same be true of Jewish theater? Is suspect so. In the next months, I am going to continue to try (and most assuredly fail) to define what exactly Jewish theater is, and in that quest I am interested in hearing from others who have thought about that question.
What is Jewish theater to you?
1 week ago