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Habima Theatre

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Basic Information

Location Sderot Tarsat 2, Tel Aviv, Israel
Phone number 03-6295555
Country Israel
City Tel Aviv-Yafo

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment yes
Handicap accessibility yes
Website http://www.habima.co.il/show_item.asp?levelId=64318
Geographical Coordinates 32.07263,34.77868


The Habima Theatre (Hebrew: הבימה - התיאטרון הלאומי‎, lit. "The Stage"), is the national theatre of Israel and one of the first Hebrew language theatres. The theatre is located in Habima Square, situated in the center of Tel Aviv.

History and time period

Habima was initially founded by Nahum Zemach in Białystok in Poland, in 1912. Because its performances were in Hebrew and dealt with issues of the Jewish people, the theatre was met with persecution from the Czarist government. From 1918, Habima Theatre operated under the auspices of the Moscow Art Theatre. The theatre has encountered many challenged, under the Soviet government and following the Russian Revolution.

Stanislavski arranged for the Jewish Polish actors to be trained by Yevgeny Vakhtangov. The People's Commissar of Nationalities Affairs, Joseph Stalin, also authorised the theatre's creation. In 1926, the theatre left the Soviet Union for an international tour, which included visiting the United States. Zemach and some actors stayed in New York City, where their productions were met with great success. The productions were performed in Hebrew and included plays from the Jewish folk tradition. Thereafter, the company split up, with some members choosing to stay in New York.

Lodz Impact: The theatre visited Lodz, in Poland, pre-war where the photographer and artist Mendel Grossman photographed the actors and actresses from the wings. His life was changed as a result of the visit of the theatre.

Establishment in Palestine: Other members of the theatre took the company to Mandate Palestine in 1928. At that time, the Habima Players invited director Aleksei Dikiy from the Moscow Art Theatre to help them. Dikiy directed two successful plays for Habima, the first being Der Oytser (The Treasure), a play in Yiddish by Sholom Aleichem, which premiered on December 29, 1928. The second play was The Crown, a play by David Calderon that premiered on May 23, 1929 in Tel Aviv. With the success of Dikiy's directorship in the season of 1928/29, Habima gained reputation as a national Jewish theatre with a permanent repertoire and stage in Tel Aviv.

The image of actress Hana Rovina starring as Leah'le in the historical Habima production of S. Ansky's The Dybbuk (performed by Habima in the Hebrew-language translation by Hayyim Nahman Bialik) is a cultural icon that to many represents Jewish and Israeli theatre.

In 1945, the company built a theatre in Tel Aviv, which it occupied before completion.

National Theatre of Israel Habima has been officially considered the national theatre of Israel since 1958, the year in which it received the Israel Prize for theatre. This was the first year in which the Prize was awarded to an organization. In the 21st century, Habima employs 80 actors, and another 120 staff members work at the complex.

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