UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


The Rise of Hasidic Yiddish theatre

02 February 2021, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

'Hasidic Yiddish' graphic

Wojciech Tworek, University of Wrocław

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






UCL Hasidic Yiddish


Gower Street

Ada Rapoport-Albert Seminar Series in Hasidic Yiddish

The recent years have seen a surge in theatrical performances in Hasidic Yiddish addressed to mainly Hasidic children and youth. These 'pleyz' or 'shpiln', as they are called, performed around Jewish holidays, attract thousands of spectators, and an undefined number of viewers watch them later on DVDs and via orthodox streaming services. Despite its increasing presence, however, this growing branch of contemporary Hasidic Yiddish culture, know has gone almost entirely unnoticed by scholars of Yiddish, Hasidism or Jewish theatre.

In my talk, I will discuss the rise of the Hasidic theatre against the backdrop of other aspects of Haredi entertainment, such as music, slideshows, and films. I will focus in particular on the changes in the patterns of Haredi leisure culture, exacerbated by the encroachment of the Internet and new media into orthodox communities. Showcasing several major plays, such as "Vi iz Yossele" (2009), "A fintstere nakht in Varshe" (2015), "Misterye" (2015), "Intern Rikn" (2016), "Eyrope brent" (2018) or "Sabotazh" (2018), I will give an overview of the Hasidic Yiddish theatre as it has developed in the two recent decades.  By analysing the plot, language, cast, and scenography of showcased plays, I will demonstrate what are the values that American Hasidic artists and educators intend to convey through it to their young audience. Finally, the talk will use the plays as a case study of how American Hasidic communities negotiate their programmatic insularity with their de facto participation in the surrounding cultures.

About the Speaker

Wojciech Tworek

at University of Wrocław