Welcome to the Dybbuk Afterlives Online Archive Celebrating the Centenary of An-sky’s Dybbuk!

Final scene of the original production of The Dybbuk by the Vilna Troupe (©YIVO)

On December 9, 1920, at the Elizeum Theater in Warsaw, Poland, the Vilna Troupe premiered the Yiddish drama, The Dybbuk, Or Between Two Worlds (1914/18), by S. An-sky (1863-1920). The play, often referred to as the Jewish Romeo and Juliet meets The Exorcist, became an instantaneous hit – over 200, 000 people saw it in the first year [1]Debra Caplan, Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy (University of Michigan Press, 2018) – and soon, a global sensation. Since then, The Dybbuk has been possessing theater stages and cultures worldwide. It has inspired over a hundred (and counting) works of theater, film, literature, music, and dance, while the dybbuk trope has crossed over to popular culture as seen in recent horror movies.

This online archive is a product of an over a decade-long fascination with An-sky’s masterpiece and its continued appeal to audiences around the world, which inspired equally long academic research by Dr. Agi Legutko. It accompanies her forthcoming book, tentatively titled Dybbuk Afterlives (still in production), which explores the significance of The Dybbuk in modern cultural imaginaries. It serves as bibliographical notes towards the production and reception history of the most often staged Yiddish play, S. An-sky’s The Dybbuk, Or Between Two Worlds in the years 1920–2020 (and beyond); and as a multimedia educational resource to be used in courses on Yiddish and Jewish literatures and cultures, theater, and history. Beyond academic use, this digital archive aims to become a platform for Dybbuk-inspired works to be explored by all Dybbuk enthusiasts out there.

The timeline features information about known adaptations and productions inspired by An-sky’s iconic play across genres. Whenever possible, it lists the date and place of the premiere, artists, images or videos, and bibliographical resources: reviews and scholarly articles.

The launch of this online archive joins in the global celebration of the centenary of the world premiere of An-sky’s magnum opus marked on December 9, 2020.

Thanks for visiting! Enjoy!


A Global Celebration of the Centenary of S. An-sky’s The Dybbuk, Or Between Two Worlds, Dec 9, 2020

December 9, 2020, marks the centennial of the world premiere of An-sky’s Dybbuk, which is celebrated around the world by artistic and academic events through panels, performances, or premieres of new works. Here is a list of events, all available online.

A series of events celebrating the world premiere of The Dybbuk by S. An-ski organized by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theater Institute in Warsaw.

– An exciting virtual exhibit of “Stagings of The Dybbuk in Poland featuring Dybbuk productions staged in Poland between 1920-2017, launched on Dec 9, 2020.

International seminar on “Between Two Worlds: Reflections on the Creation, Circulation, and the Legacy of The Dybbuk on its 100th Anniversary” (in English) featuring scholars from Israel, Poland, and the US: Ruthie Abeliovich (University of Haifa), Debra Caplan (CUNY Baruch College), Agata Dąbrowska (Łódź University), Nathaniel Deutsch (University of California), Agnieszka Legutko (Columbia University), Diego Rotman (Hebrew University), and Michael Steinlauf (Gratz College), moderated by Rachel Merill Moss (Northwestern University).

– An online performance of Babie Lato [Indian Summer] by Adi Weinberg, a tale of two worlds interfusing.

– “Reading Dybbuk Today,” an online panel with Polish theater producers of The Dybbuk, hosted by Professor Anna Kuligowska-Korzeniowska and Jarosław Cymerman (in Polish), featuring Małgorzata Sporek-Czyżewska, Wojciech Szroeder, Piotr Tomaszuk, Paweł Passini, Aneta Adamska, Golda Tencer, Łukasz Chotkowski, Anna Smolar, and Łukasz Kos.

– A world premiere of the VR installation show, Cwiszn/Na pograniczu światów (Between the Worlds) inspired by The Dybbuk directed by Paweł Passini, an immersive video produced over the course of thirty days that separate the centenary of An-ski’s death (Nov 8) and the world premiere of his most famous play (Dec 9), streamed online on Dec 9, 2020.


–– An online premiere Jewish Flying Theater: Der Dybbuk, directed by Łukasz Kos, Dec 13, 2020, at 1:30 PM EST, based on The Dybbuk adaptation for two people by Bruce Meyers. Organized by the JCC Warsaw.


– A conversation with theater director Paweł Passini, “Jewish Theater Around The Dybbuk” (in Polish) on An-sky’s 100th death anniversary, hosted on Nov 9, 2020, by Piotr Kowalik, organized by the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

  • UNITED STATES: The Dybbuk at 100 Dec 9 & Dec 14, 2020

Two events organized by the Congress for Jewish Culture:

–– Dec 9, 2020: A special online panel The Dybbuk at 100, on The Dybbuk, Sh. Ansky, and the Vilner Trupe with Nahma Sandrow, Debra Caplan, and Itzik Gottesman, moderated by Caraid O’Brien, organized by Shane Baker and the Congress for Jewish Culture.

–– Dec 14, 2020, 7PM EST: A world Youtube premiere of Der Dibek (The Dybbuk): 100th Anniversary Production, (in Yiddish with English subtitles), directed and adapted by Allen Lewis Rickman, with all-star international cast, featuring  Mike Burstyn (Los Angeles), Mendy Cahan (Tel Aviv), Refoyel Goldwasser (Buenos Aires), Dan Kahn (Berlin), Amitai Kedar (Tel Aviv), Yoffe Sheinberg (New York), Yelena Shmulenson (New York), Suzanne Toren (New York), and Michael Wex (Toronto). Music, including pieces from the original production, performed by Michael Winograd.


– An online premiere of The Dybbuk, by the Theater for the New City in association with the New Yiddish Rep, adapted by David Mandelbaum and directed by Jesse Freedman, streamed live in English, Dec 9-13, Dec 16-20, Wed-Sat 7PM EST, Sun 3 PM EST, tickets starting at $5.


– KINO LORBER’S recently released, The Jewish Soul: Classics of Yiddish Cinema Blu-Ray box set of ten restored Yiddish movies, featuring two versions (125″ and 99″) of the iconic Der Dibek (1937), directed by Michał Waszyński, with a commentary track by Jim Hoberman and other extras.

  • AUSTRALIA: An-sky: A Man of Many Guises

An online program commemorating An-sky’s 100th yortsayt, the centenary of S. An-sky’s death (Nov 8, 1920), exploring his life through poetry and music, S. An-sky: A Man of Many Guises, organized by Jewish Labour Bund Inc. Melbourne. Featuring an original script by Arnold Zable and original musical composition by Gideon Preiss, with performances by Joshua Reuben, Gideon Preiss, Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko, Shane Baker, and others (subtitles available for Yiddish).

References

References
1 Debra Caplan, Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy (University of Michigan Press, 2018)

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