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 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 all Dybbuk-inspired works to be explored for 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.

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. The launch of this online archive joins in the celebration of the centenary of An-sky’s magnum opus. Thanks for visiting! Enjoy!


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