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The first organized theater framework was known in 1905 , when pioneers from the Second Aliyah organized an amateur theater in Jaffa called "The Society of Dramatic Art Lovers". Even before that, on Sukkot in 1890 , David Yellin at the Lemel School in Jerusalem presented the play "Zerubavel" by Moshe Leib Lilienblum . On Chol Hamoed Pesach 1894 , a group of amateur pioneers staged the play "Shulamit" by Avraham Goldfaden at the Leon Stein factory in Jaffa.*  Among the members of the Dramatic Art Lover Company were some of the founders of Tel Aviv , among them Abba Ne'eman and Yehudit Harari. The plays presented were of a Jewish-historical context, such as Uriel d'Acosta by Karl Gotzkow , The Hasmoneans, Yiftach's daughter by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and Esther by Jean Racine . Yiddish plays were also shown. 

The Habimah Theater, which was founded in Moscow in 1917, under the guidance of Russian director Constantin Stanislavsky and with the acting talent of Hanna Rovina (1892-1980), who later became the First Lady of Hebrew Theater., stamped a play in Hebrew in contrast to the Bund Theater, which introduced Yiddish and fostered Yiddish culture. Habimah in Moscow,

In 1920 , David Davidov founded the first Hebrew theater in Tel Aviv called " The Hebrew Theater in Eretz Israel ." Among the actors were Miriam Bernstein-Cohen , Ari Kutai and Meir Teomi, who later became the "Dramatic Theater" directed by Miriam Bernstein-Cohen. The theater failed to perform classic plays and had to switch to light entertainment.

In 1923 five of the actors of the dramatic theater retired to Germany and studied the art of acting with Max Reinhardt . When they returned to Israel in 1926 , they founded " The Eretz Israel Theater " with the assistance of the director Menachem Gnessin .

In 1927 , several actors left the "Eretz Israel Theater" and founded the satirical theater "The Kettle " under the direction of Avigdor Hameiri.

In 1925 was founded  the Histadrut Workers' Theater by Moshe Halevi Haoel whose purpose was to bring quality performances to the workers and to present plays with an affinity socialist - Zionist including biblical background scenes, showing biblical scenes socialist morality plays, such as "Jeremiah" by Stefan Zweig and "Jacob and Rachel" by Creshnikov.  The theater was active until the 1960s , and among his well-known performances was " The Brave Soldier Schweik " starring Meir Margalit


Other members of Haoel were Abraham Halfi and Yaakov Einstein. One of the most prominent playwrights whose staged plays were performed in the Haoel Theater was Nahum Benari. Nathan Alterman has tranlated for the Haoel Theater,  stage pieces from the French language, like " the imaginary patient " by Moliere.

In the 1930s , during the Fifth Aliyah , dozens of stage installations, most of them small and short-lived, flourished in Eretz Yisrael, due to the arrival of many actors and directors from the German-speaking world and from the dramatic stage to the Cabarets . 

In 1931, the company Habimah Theater, set up its permanent home in Tel Aviv. Theater in Israel is composed of many different elements with playwrights, actors, directors, and producers of many backgrounds merging the foreign with the local and thereby gradually creating a distinctive Israeli theater.

In 1944 , Moshe Walin founded the comic theater " Li-le-Lu ", which produced a variety of plays and songs. Most of the songs for the theater were written by Avraham Shlonsky and Natan Alterman, and performed by a number of Yemenite singers, including Shoshana Damari , and the broom theater continued to exist. 


In recent years, a number of Israeli companies have toured Eastern and Western Europe and the United States, and have participated in international festivals,  including the Edinburgh and Berlin Festivals, and appeared in major theater events in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. A number of semi-professional and amateur groups perform in English and Russian.

Leading playwrights, several of whom have received international recognition, include the late Hanoch Levine, Yehoshua Sobol, Hillel Mittelpunkt, and the late Ephraim Kishon. 

Habimah, the national theater, is housed in Tel Aviv. Its repertoire includes traditional plays on Jewish themes, works of contemporary Hebrew playwrights, and translations of international classics, dramas, and comedies, with internationally acclaimed directors sometimes brought in to stage productions.

The Cameri Theater, the Tel Aviv municipal theater since 1970, was the first company to stage realistic portrayals of Israeli life and has continued to contribute to the development of Hebrew theater with a lively repertoire, including a major series of original Israeli dramas and adaptations of major classical and modern hits. The Cameri Theater is located  in a new state-of-the-art compound which comprises four halls and is adjacent to the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. 

The Haifa Municipal Theater is a repertory theater featuring Israeli productions, as well as foreign plays, both classical and modern.

The Be'er Sheva Theater is a repertory theater featuring contemporary, original works, as well as translated classical and modern foreign plays.

The Beit Leissin Theater in Tel Aviv is a repertory theater featuring Israeli works, as well as translated contemporary foreign plays.

The Arab Theater is a professional Arab-language theater for adults, featuring original works from Arab countries, as well as translated contemporary works.

The Beit Hagefen Theater is a professional Arab-language theater for children and youth, featuring original, contemporary plays, also from other countries.

The Khan Theater, Jerusalem's only repertory theater, offers a mixture of contemporary and classical works in a unique hall situated in a restored, centuries-old Turkish inn.

The Gesher Theater, founded in 1991 to provide an artistic outlet for new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, first offered high-level productions in Russian. Following its success and critical acclaim, it has now entered the mainstream of Israeli theater with Hebrew plays. It has represented Israel in prestigious festivals all over the world.

The Clipa Theater was founded in 1995 by Idit Herman, dancer and director, and Dmitry Tyulpanov (Russia), actor and musician. Their company weaves the arts of theater, dance, design, and music. The group, whose works are mostly wordless, debuts two to four new works a year. Most are performed for a limited period, and some are performed only once, at a unique location. 


The Children's and Youth Theater stages plays for three different age groups at schools and cultural centers throughout the country, conducts drama and theater classes, and provides instructors for special school workshops.

The Akko Festival is a fringe theater festival, where new and experimental Israeli work is premiered. It consists of a competition of indoor performances; outdoor and street performances; and international guest performances.

The Children's Theater Festival takes place in Haifa. It features new works for children, includes a competition and hosts international guest performances.


The Train Theater was established in Jerusalem in 1981 as a puppet theater. It offers a variety of plays from full-length performances to colorful story-telling for very small children, as well as street festivals for the whole family. The theater also produces the annual International Festival of Puppet Theater.

Training in acting, directing, and allied stage professions is available at Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Beit-Zvi School of the Performing Arts (Ramat Gan), the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), and the Kibbutz Seminar's School of Drama.  

Light Entertainment

The concept of 'popular' entertainment began during the 1940s with such groups as Chizbatron, Matateh, and Batzal Yarok, Haim Topol, Si Hyman, Miri Aloni, Dorit Reuveni, and Yardena Arazi. During this era, the Israeli comedy group Hagashash Hahiver rose to fame, going on to perform decades of what became classic Israeli sketches and eventually winning the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement in the arts.

A new generation of stand-up comics, such as Eli Yatzpan and Adi Ashkenazi, is beginning to command substantial followings.




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