The messianic temporality of theatre in I. L. Peretz’s At Night in the Old Marketplace

Yair Lipshitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theatre, as an art form that unfolds through time and moulds temporal experience, engages with its surrounding culture’s temporal imagination, the ways in which society conceives time, its movement, structures, and meaning. I. L. Peretz’s enigmatic and avant-garde Yiddish drama, At Night in the Old Marketplace, utilizes this potential of the theatre to tackle the question of messianic time and the ways in which it can be realized on the stage. By evoking Jewish traditions regarding the Messiah, religious nocturnal rituals, and the dynamics of Carnival, Peretz reconfigures messianic time as a radical, recurring yet fleeting, temporal experience. Theatrical temporality has affinities with messianic time because both are transitory and charged, condensed and ephemeral, and disjointed from the experience of time in everyday life. Rather than imagining messianic time as an eternal future to be awaited, Peretz’s play invites us to ponder in the theatre about the possibility of a messianically charged, albeit always fleeting, present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-376
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • I. L. Peretz
  • Jewish theatre
  • Yiddish drama
  • messianic time


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