Purim play

Definition

Theater

  • In the Jewish theater, a traditional play performed duringthe festival of Purim (14 Adar). The genre developed from a 14th-centurydrama influenced by the Italian carnival. Mostly performed in ruralareas, the improvised plays were usually one-act comic interludeswith songs and dances. They were based on the story of the deliveranceof the Jews from the massacre planned by Haman, which is celebratedat Purim. Playwrights later began to treat other subjects from Jewishscripture, such as the lives of Joseph, Moses, and David.

    The Purim plays contributed to the development of a distinctlyJewish dramatic tradition and became popular throughout Europe inthe 17th century. Later influences included the commedia dell'arteand, in Germany, the English Comedians. The genre declinedduring the 18th century, when the Jewish religious authorities foundits depiction of comic rabbis, midwives, and devils too irreverent.The Haskala groups in Germany later restored the genre's originaldidactic intention. The Purim play was eventually absorbed by theYiddish theater established by Abraham Goldfaden (1840 - 1908).

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