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The DYBBUK Project

Eshkol Tower, 5th Floor, room 516

The University of Haifa

199 Aba Khoushy Ave.

Mount Carmel, Haifa

Zip. 3498838

Israel

Yiddish Popular Theatre

1880–1920: ​ ​

Performance as

Knowledge

DYBBUK is a 5-year research project, based at the University of Haifa and funded by the European Research Council, that sets out to uncover and explore the popular theatre that made up the daily cultural reality of the Jewish masses at the turn of the 20th century. It will crack-open the textual body of remaining musical and dramatic manuscripts, to the complete performances of the Yiddish popular theatre.

Research

The Dybbuk Before
The Dybbuk:
A Bastard History

Abeliovich Ruthie. “The Dybbuk Before The Dybbuk: A Bastard History.” The Dybbuk Century: The Jewish Play that Possessed the World. Eds. Debra Caplan and Rachel Merrill Moss (under contract with University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2021).

Kol Nidre and the
Making of The Jewish
Theatre Audience

Abeliovich Ruthie." ‘Kol Nidre’ and the Making of The Jewish Theatre Audience," Ingeveb Journal (special issue on ‘Shund’ theatre, edited by Nick Underwood, Sonia Golance and Joel Berkowitz, forthcoming).

The Yiddish Theater
Republic of Sound and the Performance of Listening

Abeliovich Ruthie. “The Yiddish Theater Republic of Sound and the Performance of Listening.” In: Tina Fruhauf (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook for Jewish Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

DYBBUK

Open Site Navigation

Amid a massive migration movement at the turn of the 20th century, the Yiddish popular theatre prospered, producing a staggering volume of entertainment consumed by millions of Jews. Most of this mass-appealing output was delegitimized by Jewish intellectuals as 'shund' (trash), a term that encompasses primitive, plagiarized, vulgar, and worthless art. Consequently, a valuable component of modern popular culture has been overlooked. DYBBUK will restore this neglected yet highly influential corpus of Yiddish popular theatre (1880-1920) and make it available for our appreciation.

Revising canonical cultural paradigms,  DYBBUK recognizes delegitimized artistic ‘lowbrow’ theatre as a vital component in the fashioning of modernist culture. Focusing on the unexplored theatrical corpus of the two most prolific 'shund' authors: Moyshe Hurwitz (1844-1910) and Joseph Lateiner (1853-1935), this project offers an integrative typological, embodied, and theoretical analysis of theatrical themes, dramatic forms, and performative practices.

The Yiddish popular theatre played a crucial role in transporting cultural styles, ideas, and products. To untangle and understand the complexity and scope of this theatre, this project devises a groundbreaking analytical and embodied toolkit for studying theatre history.

 

We will incorporate into our analysis resources of various media, and we will reenact a forgotten 'shund' performance in a practice-based research. In doing so, DYBBUK aims to contribute to our understanding of popular theatre, revealing it as a preeminent ethnographic and historical source for examining the sensual and experiential dimensions of theatre, and the theatrical and cultural exchange of minorities with mainstream culture.

About

the project

 

אַ קללה איז געלעגן און ליגט עד היום אויפן יידישן טעאַטער. עס ציט אים כּסדר, ווי דעם וואָלף, אין וואַלד אַרײַן, אין דעם שונד־וואַלד אַרײַן.

A. Mukdoni, Yitshak Leybush Perets un dos yidishe teater (New York: IKUF, 1949), 137.

We are currently developing and implementing an interactive open-access online database of Yiddish popular theatre materials. The database will be a rich, searchable, and constantly updated repository of artists, musicians, works, sources, and their diverse intersections. The database will contain information and archival materials about performances, their artistic contexts, with manuscripts, sound recordings, and relevant scholarship. This digital platform will enable us to analyze the transnational network of Yiddish popular theatre, to uncover and study new relationships between performances, artists, and dramatic and musical works. This database will serve theatre, musicology, and performance studies, as well as cultural historians and artists.

Database

Coming soon!

 

לכבוד יום־טוב האָט מען געגעבן דעם עלנסטן רעפּערטואר, די שמוציקסטע לידלעך, די סאַמע חלבנע וויצן. לכבוד יום־טוב זײַנען אַלע אקטיאָרן געווען הייזעריק און דאָס פּובליקום—אַלמעכטיקער גאָט!—דער סאַמע אָפּפאַל פון דער יידישער באַפעלקערונג.

A. Mukdoni, Yitshak Leybush Perets un dos yidishe teater

(New York: IKUF, 1949), 143.

The Yiddish popular theatre played a crucial role in transporting cultural styles, ideas, and products. To untangle and understand the complexity and scope of this theatre, this project devises a groundbreaking analytical and embodied toolkit for studying theatre history.

 

We will incorporate into our analysis resources of various media, and we will reenact a forgotten Shund performance in a practice-based research. In doing so, DYBBUK aims to contribute to our understanding of popular theatre, revealing it as a preeminent ethnographic and historical source for examining the sensual and experiential dimensions of theatre, and the theatrical and cultural exchange of minorities with mainstream culture.

The DYBBUK team is an interdisciplinary  polyglot group of scholars at various stages of their academic careers,  speaking and reading a variety of European languages, who have come together to study the Yiddish popular theatre at the turn of the century.

 

The DYBBUK team consists of musicologists, theatre historians, Yiddish experts, a composer, and a digital humanities consultant. An ongoing teamwork of performance reconstruction, drama translation, and historical analysis, combined with practical theatre and music research, will enable us to trace and study the acting and vocal techniques, images, and themes staged in the Yiddish popular theatre.

The Team

DYBBUK is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. 
Grant agreement No. 948150

Principal Investigator: Ruthie Abeliovich
Host Institution: The University of Haifa

Duration: 5 years
Start date: October 1st, 2021

Designer: Rotem Cohen-Soaye