High spirits

This year's Israel Festival shows a deep attachment to 'The Dybbuk.'

Dybbuk 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Dybbuk 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
From Leonard Bernstein to the Royal Shakespeare Company, the mystique surrounding the ephemeral archetype of the dybbuk has been a muse compelling artists of all media to create a surprisingly large thematic corpus. Though it was S. Ansky's 1914 play Der Dybbuk that was the catalyst, many of the four productions presented here in this year's Israel Festival have used it merely as a jumping-off point to explore other worlds. • Starting June 3, the TR Warszawa theater will present its Polish adaptation of The Dybbuk (with Israeli actress Orna Porat), in which it splices Ansky's tale with a short story by Hanna Krall. Focusing on an American man haunted by his half-brother who was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, this production entwines Holocaust themes into the classic saga. Jerusalem Theater, Sherover Hall: June 3 at 8:30 p.m. and June 4 at 6 p.m. • Also beginning June 3 is an Israeli production, Between Two Worlds, which uses puppets and puppetmasters to show who pulls the strings (literally) in the struggle between possessed and possession. Directed and performed by Shmuel Shohat, the production is accompanied by two lectures: On June 5 at 4:30 p.m., Prof. Rachel Elior will present "The Dybbuk and the Jewish Woman," and at 5 p.m. Prof. Yoram Bilu will discuss "The Woman Who Wanted to Be Her Father." Khan Theater, Jerusalem, Stage 2: June 3, 4 and 5 at 8:30 p.m. • In the Dead of the Night by Renana Raz and Ofer Amram has two performances on June 3. Raz, an accomplished dancer and actress, has choreographed the piece, which is being marketed as "an evening of dance-theater." The Lab, Jerusalem: June 3 at 4 p.m. and again at 8:30. • Habimah National Theater will stage a new version of its signature play with a production written and directed by Mor Frank, who based his adaptation on several dybbuk accounts and encounters. The Lab: June 5 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. • In addition to the stage productions, three Jerusalem venues are hosting other dybbuk-related events. From June 5-7 Hazira Interdisciplinary Theater is holding a seminar at the Gerard Behar Center (www.hazira.org.il); there is a conference at Mishkenot Sha'ananim from June 11-12 (www.scholion.huji.ac.il); and Beit Shmuel is giving a walking tour including kabbalists' homes (02) 620-3461.