in development

breaking protocols

Originally slated for August 2020, now scheduled to open in 2022 at the Philosophical Research Society.

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Set in the U.S. on the eve of the 1940 election, breaking protocols examines the quintessential antisemitic text, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” through the lens of a decaying vaudeville troupe using the tricks of the trade to try to set the record straight.

Exploding "The Protocols," theatre dybbuk's performance will explore contemporary issues connected to racism, propaganda, and false narratives.

As with all of theatre dybbuk's works, breaking protocols will be rich in poetic text, choreographed movement, and original music.

 The piece is set to premiere at The Philosophical Research Society.

breaking protocols is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project, co-commissioned by Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and The Hive at Leichtag Commons.


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Virtual events have been presented via Zoom in partnership with LACE (April 25), The Hive at Leichtag Commons (May 13), Oshman Family JCC Arts and Dialogues (June 18), and Musée du Montréal juif - Museum of Jewish Montreal (December 15) . All events have included performed readings of in-process script selections and Q&As; the Hive, LACE, and Museum of Jewish Montreal events also included writing workshops exploring themes in the show.


The presentation with LACE was supported in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. 


Written and Directed by Aaron Henne

Assistant Director (LACE and Hive events): Tova Katz

The Ensemble:

Solly – Joe Jordan

Essie – Julie A. Lockhart

Ruthie – Diana Tanaka

breaking protocols research, background, and history

"The Protocols" In the News

November 21, 2019 – "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was referenced by Dr. Fiona Hill – the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia – in her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry hearings. Watch the segment posted by Face The Nation below. You can also read more analysis about Dr. Hill's testimony in publications such as the Forward and the Huffington Post.

So...What Is/Are "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"?

Supposedly the record of secret meetings of Jewish leaders, "The Protocols" describes an alleged conspiracy to dominate the world. It has become a touchpoint and source of inspiration for antisemitic movements world-wide. The document – which has been proven fraudulent – does not indicate when or where the meetings took place, who attended, or its authorship.


An abbreviated version of "The Protocols" was first published in 1903 in the St. Petersburg newspaper Znamya (The Banner). The editor of Znamya, Pavel Krushevan, was an outspoken antisemite.


"The Protocols" were first published in full in 1905 as an appendix to the book The Great in the Small and the Antichrist as an Imminent Political Possibility by Sergei Nilus.

The Authorship Question


One theory points the authorship of "The Protocols" to Matvei (a.k.a. Mathieu) Golovinski as a part of a monarchist scheme to persuade Tsar Nicholas II that the capitalist modernization of Russia was really a Jewish plot to control the world. Golovinski was said to be working in Paris under the direction of Pyotr Rachkovsky – the chief of the Russian imperial secret service (the Okhrana) who was based in Paris from 1884-1902.

Will Eisner illustrates this theory in his sequential novel, The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2005).

Not all scholars agree on Golovinski's authorship. In fact, current scholarship largely rejects this theory.

Steven J. Zipperstein in his book, Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History (2018), argues that Pavel Krushevan ("The Protocols" first publisher) might well have been an author, either on his own or with others, of the fraudulent work. The antisemitic rhetoric that Krushevan published in his newspaper, Znamya, likely helped to fuel the Kishinev pogrom. Krushevan was also associated with the Black Hundreds, an ultra-nationalist movement in Russia in the early 20th century. The Black Hundreds opposed any retreat from the autocratic rule of the reigning monarch and was known to have used violence against those who were believed to be a threat to the Tsar.

Plagiarism within "The Protocols"

Not only is "The Protocols" a fraudulent document, it is also partially plagiarized. Sections of "The Protocols" were plagiarized from an earlier text by French attorney and political writer Maurice Joly. In 1864, Joly published the political satire Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu in protest against the regime of Napoleon III.

This plagiarism was brought to light by Irish journalist Philip Graves in a series of articles in The Times of London in 1921. These articles were the first to expose "The Protocols" as an antisemitic forgery.

our process do we create a new work?

Each new piece of theatre that we create begins with internal research and then takes between 6 months and 2 years from the first group meeting to opening night.

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In the first phase of the process, we have around a dozen script development meetings with the writer/director, dramaturg, composer, actors, designers, and a scholar.

We also have regular physical development sessions – meeting 2-3 times a month – with the actors, writer/director, choreographer, and other leaders of stylized performance, such as a mask and puppet designer.

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As the script development concludes, a brief workshop phase begins where we experiment with choreography, music, and other show-specific performance elements such as shadow work, mask work, and puppetry. We also refine the script.

In the final 4 weeks leading up to opening night, we take what we learned during the workshop period and "set" the script, music, and various staging elements. While the script and staging may continue to change up until opening night, this final stage is a process of refining all that we have created up until then.

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