2014 Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Various, multiform and multidisciplinary, the Seminars and the Workshops included in the program “ANCIENT GREEK DRAMA: Influences and Contemporary Approaches” of the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation take place this year with the cooperation of the Department of Theatre Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
In total, six Seminars and two Workshops will be carried out, conducted by six Academic teachers, on subjects which pertain to global theatre’s major performances and directors, as well as to the pursuit of both common intersections and differences of the Ancient Greek Drama depending on the various theatrical traditions and practices around the world.
The Seminars and the Workshops will be attended by Theater Studies students, students and graduates of Education and Classical Studies, as well as Drama Schools’ graduates and students.
1st Seminar
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Hours: 17:30 – 20:00
Instructor/ Seminar’s Supervisor: Dr. Jeanette R. Malkin, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) and Chair of the Department of Theatre Studies
Subject: Max Reinhardt’s “Oedipus” as a Pan-European Festival Performance (1910)
In 1910, Germany’s leading theatre director, Max Reinhardt, explored a new type of theatre performance by staging Sophocles’ Oedipus in a circus arena in Munich. Reinhardt’s turn to the arena stage was an ideological move toward a “people’s theatre” in which physical experience, ecstasy and joy were valued above the textual. The chorus, for example, was comprised of hundreds of half-naked extras carrying torches and moving in close proximity to the audience. Thus, the tragedy of the Theban people was fore-grounded and the audience involved. This – and other similar – productions combined elements of popular theatre with a classic text and the seriousness of the elite bourgeois theatre. This innovative performance was later transferred to circus buildings in Berlin, Vienna, to London’s Covent Garden, as well as touring to Budapest, Moscow, Stockholm, etc.
In this seminar, we will examine Reinhardt’s attempt to return theatre from the proscenium stage to the Greek agora which embraced the entire community, was inclusive rather than divisive, and which became a model for other attempts at a ritual people’s theatre in Europe.
2nd Seminar
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Hours: 16:00 – 18:30
Instructor/ Seminar’s Supervisor: Dr. Olga Levitan, Lecturer (Teaching Fellow, Academic Adviser)
Subject: Ancient Drama and Jewish Avant-Garde Theatre in Russia
In 1918, at the height of the Russian Revolution, Oedipus the King was staged at the Chinzeneli Circus building in Petrograd. This performance was directed by Aleksei Granovsky, the future director of the Jewish Chamber Theatre (Gosekt, 1919-1928). It marked the beginning of the ‘Theatre of Tragedy’ in Petrograd and presented an innovative performance of tragedy within a circus space. Granovsky saw himself as a student of Max Reinhardt and was also deeply influenced by Vsevolod Meyerhold. His Oedipus the King production is situated at the crossroad of Russian and German avant-garde theatre and can be viewed as an important source for the symbolic language of Jewish avant-garde theatre later developed by the Gosekt.
This seminar will discuss the stylistic characteristics and philosophical implications of Granovsky’s production, as well as its influence on the Gosekt’s tragic/ironic artistic language.
3rd Seminar
Friday, September 5, 2014
Hours: 16:00 – 18:30
Instructor/ Seminar’s Supervisor: Dr. Kinneret Noy, Assistant Professor (Scholar – Artist)
Subject: Masks in Ancient Greek and Japanese Noh Theatres  
Greek drama is considered the cradle of western theatre. Interestingly, a comparison of ancient Greek stage language and that of Japanese Noh theatre reveals great similarities that deserve further study. 
In this seminar we will examine the use of masks in both theatrical traditions, linking their function to the respective definitions of identity in each culture, and to the perception of dramatic character.  
4th Seminar
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Hours: 16:00 – 18:30
Instructor/ Seminar’s Supervisor: Keren Cohen, Doctoral Candidate (Teaching Fellow)
Subject: From Text to Spectacle: Robert Wilson’s Adaptations of Ancient Greek Sources
Contemporary American avant-garde director Robert Wilson has made a name for himself as the master of visual theatre. His early works displaced language from the centre of the theatre event, replacing it with alluring images, dream visions and grand spectacle – the theatre element deemed least important by Aristotle. In light of this, it is perhaps surprising that in 1984 Wilson turned to Euripides’ Medea as his first attempt at directing a dramatic text. Throughout the years, Wilson created numerous works based on ancient Greek plays and myths, the latest of which – Odyssey – premiered at the National Theatre of Greece in October 2012.
A comparative examination of classical Greek drama and Wilson’s theatre shows that many of the preoccupations and characteristics of Greek drama (both in text and performance) find an echo in the American director’s stage visions. Most notable among these are the ritualistic elements, the quality of the transcendent, and the use of mythical materials, archetypes and existential topics such as death, murder and the journey.
Focusing on Wilson’s adaptations of ancient Greek texts, the seminar will demonstrate how these affinities – alongside the many differences – render the dialectic between the classical dramatic text and the director’s postmodern visual theatre particularly interesting and complex.
5th Seminar
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Hours: 17:30 – 20:00
Instructor/ Seminar’s Supervisor: Dr. Yair Lipshitz, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer)
Subject: Greek Tragedy and Biblical Drama I: Intersections in Antiquity
The relationship between Jewish tradition and the theatre in general – and with Greco-Roman theatre in particular – was fraught with tensions. The Rabbis of late antiquity rejected the theatre as an institute associated with the “other” Hellenistic culture. However, alongside these rejections, many Jews in antiquity obviously attended the theatre and probably participated in it.
This seminar will focus on one remarkable instance of such participation: the Hellenistic tragedy Exagoge (2nd century BCE), written by Ezekiel of Alexandria. Exagoge is the earliest extant play written by a Jew and it retells the Biblical story of Moses and the Exodus. In the seminar, we will trace the ways in which Ezekiel negotiates between the Biblical material and the Greek tragic tradition, in order to remould his own cultural heritage – into one which is both Jewish and Greek.
6th Seminar
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Hours: 16:00 – 18:30
Instructor/ Seminar’s Supervisor: Dr. Yair Lipshitz, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer)
Subject: Greek Tragedy and Biblical Drama II: Intersections in Modern Israel
Lacking a consistent theatrical tradition within their own culture, modern Jewish playwrights who wished to turn to the Bible as a source for dramatic plots often referred to Greek tragedy as their model. Tragedy and its relation to Greek myth inspired modern Israeli playwrights as well in their theatrical adaptations of Biblical myths. This offered them and their audience a route to rethink the Biblical heritage. 
The seminar will explore one such case, the highly controversial play The Torments of Job by Hanoch Levin (1981). We will examine the ways in which the biblical story of Job is brought into dialogue with Greek tragedy in Levin’s play, and how this dialogue serves to undermine the religious and political role of the Bible in modern Israel.