The Embassy of Israel presented a theatrical performance, The Dybbuk, at the National School of Drama recently. The story, which revolved around romance and religion, was originally written by Salomon Zanvil Rapaport, better known by his nom de plume, S An-sky. Written some time between 1913 and 1916, The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds was originally written in Russian. An-sky wrote the play after a three-year ethnographic study of the Jewish communities in South-East Russia, during which he documented the traditions and rituals of a disappearing Jewish cultural heritage.
The core of the play is a promise made by Sender, a rich merchant, to his former friend Nissan Ben Rivka, that if they would have a son and a daughter, they would marry them and join the two families together. Sender moved away and forgot about his promise, even though Nissan’s son, Hannan, wandered away from home and came to Sender’s village, and ate occasionally at his table. It was there that Hannan met and fell in love with Sender’s daughter, Leah. During that time Sender never asked Hannan where he was from or who his parents were.
Internationally-renowned director David Zinder later adapted the play and reinvented the story for the stage. This version of the play is, in fact, an adaptation of an earlier version of the same play, which was directed in 2002 by David Zinder at the Hungarian National Theatre in Cluj, Romania. That production was designed by internationally renowned Israeli designer, Miriam Guretzky, with choreography by Israeli choreographer Yael Kramsky.
Staged at the National School of Drama, the play gave the Indian audience a taste of Zinder’s storytelling and An-Sky’s originality at the same time. David, who has taught acting and directing for 30 years at the Theatre Arts Department of Tel Aviv University, has been organising workshops at the National School of Drama for the past five years now. Last year, he was invited to direct this production with the graduating year of 2018. David has also held workshops in India at Calicut University in Thrissur and at Hyderabad University. In 2012, he directed a production of Lorca’s Blood Wedding with the Samahaara theatre group in Hyderabad as well.