Celebrating jewish-moroccan theatre in Israel: Production, repertoire, and reception

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In 2001, for the first time, an Arabic-language performance by Jewish actors was performed for a Jewish audience that did not deal with the Israeli-Arabic conflict. This article’s aim is to discuss how Jewish- Moroccan ethnic identity is fashioned through Jewish-Moroccan theatre in Israel through three main aspects: 1) Production and lack of public subsidy. The Jewish-Moroccan theatre is positioned on the margins of Israeli theatre, is perceived as amateurish by the tastemakers and gatekeepers of the theatre field, and is therefore not eligible for a subsidy from the Ministry of Culture. Although commercial logic leads the Jewish-Moroccan theatre, its producers identify with its communal goals as well as the creation of an empowering ethnic identity on stage. 2) Repertoire. The productions are realized in popular theatre style and use nostalgia to appeal to Moroccan Jewry, which is incompatible with the Zionist narrative. 3) Reception. Engagement with the performance by the Jewish-Moroccan audience is very active, pointing to a celebration of its identity, culture, and language, as well as a protest against the hegemonic mainstream. Theatre is perceived in Israel as a ‘white space’ belonging to the middle-class, Ashkenazi Jewish hegemony. The spectators of Jewish-Moroccan theatre ‘darken’ the ‘white space’ by transgressing received Western audience-behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-70
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was sup ported by the Open University of Israel’s Research Fund [grant no. 506161]; Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture [grant 2017–2018].


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