Nocturnal Histories: Nighttime and the Jewish Temporal Imagination in Modern Hebrew Drama

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The paper examines the utilization of night as dramatic time in modern Hebrew
plays as a device to explore the meaning of Jewish history. A long Jewish religious
tradition links nighttime to questions of exile and redemption and constructs
it, through texts and ritual performance, as a time to reflect upon time. Modern
Hebrew theatre, although often considered a secular enterprise, follows this
tradition either through direct allusions or more implicitly, while also critiquing
or deconstructing its premises. The plays analyzed here, ranging from the 1930s
to the 2010s and varying in political stance, stage nocturnal debates regarding the
meaning of time and history, but also participate in broader such debates within
Israeli society. Most prominent in these plays is the tension between religiosity and
secularity in the understanding of time, as they interrogate the complex relations
between Zionism and traditional concepts of redemption. As such, Hebrew and
Israeli theatre takes part in shaping the temporal imagination of its surrounding
culture and investigating its theological undercurrents and political ramifications.
The paper suggests reconsidering Israeli theatre’s relation to Jewish religious
performative traditions, as the case-study of nighttime exemplifies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-113
Number of pages23
JournalSkenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Israeli theatre
  • theatre and time
  • theatre and history
  • theatre and ritual;


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