Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
22
stage can a dramatist acquire the necessary technique for writing
good plays.
There are few bibliographies of Hebrew belles-lettres listing
original and translated works from the time of Moshe Haim
Luzzatto to the present day. The principal one, published by
the Hebrew University Library, includes the dramas published
until 1926. Abraham Yaari’s comprehensive bibliography
The
Hebrew Drama: The Original and the Translated from its Be
-
ginning until Today
(Jerusalem, 1956) contains close to 1400
items. These bibliographies confirm the paucity of plays written
in Hebrew and the even smaller number that have been
produced.
In Hebrew the word for “publish” is
motsi I’ or,
which literally
means “bring to light.” This phrase is very appropriate for the
drama because once the theatre lights are turned off on a play,
it is soon forgotten unless it has found its way into print. If a
play has intrinsic value it is important that it be read and even■
tually reproduced. I have in mind particularly such plays as
Aaron Ashman’s trilogy on David and Saul, Hayyim Hazaz’s
In
the End of Days,
and Nissim Aloni’s
Most Cruel: The King.
All
these plays have been published. Ashman’s plays were a success
some twenty or twenty-five years ago and certainly deserve con-
tinued consideration. Hazaz wrote his play immediately after the
Israel War of Independence, when his only son had been killed
in the battle for Jaffa. He laid his scene in the period of Sabbetai
Zevi, the false messiah, and he made his theme the repudiation
of the Galut and of the Jews who remain there. I t is hardly
surprising that the play was not popular at the time of its pro-
duction by the Habima theatre, but since Hazaz is a writer of
distinction it was fortunately published. Nissim Aloni, currently
enjoying success with his play
The Emperor’s Clothes
at the
Habimah, wrote a much better play which appeared at the same
theatre a few years ago but was not a box office success. I t deals
with the division of the Jewish kingdom after the death of King
Solomon.
Among the published dramas are two volumes edited by
Nathan Bistrizky (now Agmon) titled
Israel’s Vision and Israel’s
Mission.
They contain some plays which have been seen on the
stage and others which have not. These include Mattitiyahu
Shoham’s
Thou Shalt Not Make Thee Gods of Iron,
Richard
Beer Hoffman’s
Jacob’s Dream,
Max Zweig’s
Saul,
Racine’s
Athalie,
Stephen Zweig’s
Jeremiah,
Hebei’s
Herod and Miriam,
Agmon’s
Jerusalem Night,
Max Brod’s
Reuveni,
and Jacob
Cohen’s
David, King of Israel.
There are also four volumes of
plays in verse among the fourteen volumes of Jacob Cohen’s col-
lected works. These are all in the classical tradition and will
undoubtedly survive many of the more ephemeral dramas which