Performing History: Theatrical Representations of the Past by Freddie Rokem

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By Freddie Rokem

Collective identities develop from a feeling of the earlier, and the theatre very forcefully participates within the ongoing representations of and debates concerning the earlier, occasionally by means of contesting them and occasionally by means of reinforcing them. In his exam of the ways that the theatre after international battle II has awarded diverse points of the French Revolution and the Holocaust, Freddie Rokem exhibits us that by way of "performing heritage" actors - as witnesses for the departed witnesses - deliver the history and the theatrical current jointly. Rokem analyzes the importance of degree representations of the French Revolution and the Holocaust in several nationwide contexts: the USA and Europe for performances in regards to the French Revolution and Israel for performances concerning the Holocaust. through stating either the nice range and the typical positive factors of those performances, he attracts cognizance to the advanced collective efforts and the creativity of playwrights, administrators, designers and actors as they attach their theatrical energies to a selected heritage. He additionally makes a speciality of the ways that audiences in numerous cultures were suffering from or even had a power at the ideological debates embedded in those performances. Rokem seems to be at performs and performances via Yehoshua Sobol, Dudu Ma'ayan and Hanoch Levin in Israel; Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkin and Ingmar Bergman in Europe; and Orson Welles, Herbert Blau and Robert Wilson within the usa. Drawing upon those and upon his personal existence in Europe, Israel and the U.S., Rokem makes us conscious of the severe interplay among the disasters of background and the efforts to create possible and significant artistic endeavors.

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From having been two more or less separate issues, the Shoah and the Palestinian “problem” have become, since the beginning of the 1980s, closely connected and even significantly and painfully dependent on each other in many of the Israeli public discourses. No matter which of the two basic ideological commitments or modes of action has been chosen in relation to the Palestinian issue, denying the national rights of the Palestinian people and their aspira- 29 Israeli Shoah Performances 30 Israeli Shoah Performances tions for self-determination or affirming them, these attitudes have more and more frequently become an extension of the confrontation with the experience of the evil, pain, and suffering experienced during the Shoah and a test-case for how the “lessons” of history ought be learned.

Here we are even willing to admit that the historical events from this period are like the theatre. 13 The forms of violence which erupted during the time of the French Revolution and their aestheticization in the practices surrounding the guillotine, for example, have been analyzed in detail by Daniel Arasse, who (in a chapter suitably entitled “The Theatre of the Guillotine”) points out that [t]he fall of the blade was the last episode of the second phase of a ritual spectacle comprising three phases.

Adam and In the Underground have not, however, reached the same degree of popularity as Ghetto. One possible reason for this could be that theatre about theatre is somehow more effective than other themes in performances dealing with the Shoah. There are indeed a large number of Shoah plays with this kind of metatheatrical framework. The understanding of the Shoah that Sobol brought to the foreground — which had not been so explicitly formulated in the Israeli public discourse before Ghetto appeared in 1984 — was that the Jewish leaders in the ghetto, who had been appointed by the Nazis, to some extent became integrated into the Nazi system and even cooperated with it, or rather pretended that they were cooperating with it, in order to survive.

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