The Dybbuk

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The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds (Yiddish: דער דיבוק אָדער צווישן צוויי וועלטן, Der dibuk oder tsvishn tsvey veltn) is a 1914 play Solomon Ansky (1863-1920)[1].

Most often referred to simply as The Dybbuk or Dybbuk.

The original text

Written in Yiddish[] by the Russian Jewish playwright in 1914, the play relates the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk — a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person — on the eve of her wedding. The Dybbuk is considered a seminal play in the history of Jewish theatre, and played an important role in the development of Yiddish theatre and theatre in Israel. The play was based on years of research by S. Ansky, who travelled between Jewish shtetls in Russia and Ukraine, documenting folk beliefs and stories of the Hassidic Jews.

Yevgeny Vakhtangov (1823-1922), considered as one of the original teachers of Stanislavsky’s system, directed The Dybbuk, one of his final directorial masterpieces.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as Dybbuk by Henry G. Alsberg and Winifred Katzin (1925) and by Joseph C. Landis ().

The play has been filmed several times, televised, adapted to opera and ballet, and translated into many other languages.

Performance history in South Africa

1944: Performed as Der Dybuk: a parody. A well-known Yiddish play, built up round a medieval mysticism. Produced by the Dramatic Section of the Jewish Workers’ Club in 1944 in the Library Theatre, Johannesburg.

1984: Presented by the Little Theatre in association with the Kaplan Centre, UCT in March 1984 directed by Robin Lake and Rudy Nadler-Nir of the Habimah Theatre, Israel. The large cast included Percy Sieff, Bill Curry, Icky Kurgan, Roland Stafford and David Muller. Designer Peter Cazalet, choreographer Jasmine Honore, music director Barry Jordan and spiritual supervisor Rabbi Jack Steinhorn.

1986: The Company presented Barney Simon’s production of The Dybbuk opening 18 February 1986 at the Market Theatre directed by Simon. Music by Raymond Perkel, costume and set design by Sarah Roberts, lighting design by Mannie Manim. The cast: Joe Stewardson, Megan Kruskal, Dawid Minnaar, Babs Laker, Mike Huff, Charles Comyn, Graham Weir, Michael Maxwell, Miriam Munitz.


Via Libri online catalogue[2], accessed 21 May, 2020 at 05h10

South African Opinion, 1(9), 1944. 20

The Dybbuk programmes 1984, 1986.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Tucker, 1997. 450.

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