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theatrical presentations

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in development

Dracula (Annotated)

premiering in Los Angeles September 2025

 

In our next project, we investigate Bram Stoker’s Dracula, weaving together our unique blend of historical investigation and heightened theatricality to create a new work from the core of the novel. This is the second in a series of “Annotated” productions in which we explode and explore classic or well-known and culturally influential works to disrupt more familiar or comfortable ways of engaging with them.

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currently touring

The Merchant of Venice (Annotated), or

In Sooth I Know Not Why I Am So Sad

premiered in Los Angeles May 12, 2023

 

What can a play from sixteenth century England tell us about how antisemitism and other prejudicial beliefs operate in our world today? Investigating William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, we weave in our unique blend of deep historical investigation and heightened theatricality to create a new work from the core of the classic play which explores issues of identity, marginalization, assimilation, and power throughout history and in our modern world.

hell prepared production still (2019) photo by Taso Papadakis

hell prepared: a ritual exorcism inspired by kabbalistic principles, performed within a dominant cultural context

premiered July 26, 2019

Enter the gates of the Venice Ghetto of the 17th century and go on a journey of dominance, separation, and survival that spirals down through the pits of Gehenna. In a landscape of choreographed movement, poetic text, shadow puppetry, and choral scoring, hell prepared follows a spiritual leader as he endeavors to exorcise the dominant culture and its influence on his world.
lost tribes production still (2018) photo by Mae Koo

lost tribes

premiered February 24, 2018

Inspired by the stories of the lost tribes of Israel, theatre dybbuk presents a full-length theatrical work, rich in movement, original music, and lyrical language that relates ancient mythological and tribal narratives to contemporary questions of integration, appropriation, and belonging.
exagoge production still (2016) photo by Taso Papadakis

exagoge

premiered June 18, 2016

exagoge, by Ezekiel the Poet, is the first recorded Jewish play, written during the 2nd Century B.C.E. It serves as a jumping off point for a piece that is both a play and a theatrical ritual.

cave...a dance for lilith production still (2012) photo by Taso Papadakis

cave... a dance for lilith

premiered November 9, 2012

Lilith, the primary demon figure in Jewish folklore, inspired this multidisciplinary dance/theatre piece, co-produced with Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company.

illuminated lectures, performance art events, and happenings

Radio, Propaganda, and The War of the Worlds:

An Illuminated Lecture

Sunday, September 1, 2 PM

at the Skirball Cultural Center

Professor Paul Lerner discusses Orson Welles' famous 1938 radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" vis-à-vis analysis from Austrian Jewish media researcher (and later advertising exec) Herta Herzog, who studied audience reactions to the broadcast and argued that the tensions of the time – the rise of fascist movements, the growing likelihood of war – agitated listeners and predisposed them to believe the fabricated threat from the skies, despite Welles’ assurances that the broadcast was a hoax.

This illuminated lecture is part of the city-wide festival Reflections on Art and Democracy.

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war of the worlds
hymn of the majestic

Hymn of the Majestic - Jewish Mysticism in Islamic Persia: An Illuminated Lecture

July 11, 2024

at The Philosophical Research Society

How did Jews in Persia participate in Sufism before and after the appearance of Kabbalah? Is Sufism a fundamentally Islamic form of mysticism? And what Sufi influences are still tangible in the practices of Persian Jews today?  In this illuminated lecture, Alan Niku will seek to answer these questions while actors from theatre dybbuk read poetry that brings the topics discussed vividly to life. Live music was featured as part of the event.

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marvelous puppet show

The Marvelous Puppet Show: An Illuminated Lecture

April 20, 2024

In The Marvelous Puppet Show, the author of Don Quixote gives us a story of charlatans who con an audience of nervous villagers. As it dissects the foibles of belief and belonging, Cervantes' interlude play poses uncomfortable questions for the here and now. This event combined scholarship about the play presented by Dr. Barbara Fuchs with performances by actors from theatre dybbuk. It was presented in partnership with Diversifying the Classics at UCLA and First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

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the bond

The Bond

December 21, 2023

In The Bond, theatre dybbuk presented a ritual of meditative walking and memorial rock laying as a communal processing of loss at The Philosophical Research Society (PRS). The ritual took place throughout PRS' Death Cafe, a facilitated conversation about death in which attendees were invited to participate, and was followed by a singing experience. The memorial rock structure remained as an interactive installation following the event through the winter season.
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demons and descents

Demons and Descents

October 12, 2023

An evening of Jewish tales of the supernatural from Babylon to Eastern Europe read by actors from theatre dybbuk and accompanied by an improvised musical score. Throughout the evening, a visual artist – working alongside the actors and musician – created new paper cut works inspired by, and intersecting with, the stories and sounds being offered. Presented at The Philosophical Research Society.
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currently touring
The Villainy You Teach

premiered March 2, 2023

The performance art piece The Villainy You Teach was created in the winter of 2023 as a companion piece to The Merchant of Venice (Annotated), or In Sooth I Know Not Why I Am So Sad. Villainy also explores The Merchant of Venice through the durational performance of a Shylock monologue repeated throughout a stylized reading of the play.

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Between Two Worlds: Jewish Theatre Making in Renaissance Mantua with Erith Jaffe-Berg

November 15, 2022
In this unique combination of lecture and performed reading presented with the Philosophical Research SocietyProfessor Erith Jaffe-Berg spoke about her recent publication, Jewish Theatre Making in Mantua, 1520-1650. During the lecture, actors from theatre dybbuk brought selections from the theatrical works mentioned therein vividly to life.
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rise and fall

Rise and Fall

Spring and Summer, 2022

A concert collaboration with the HEX vocal ensemble.

We selected monologues and scenes from the last 10 years of our theatrical works and invited artists from HEX to use them as inspiration for vocal and electronic musical compositions. In the resulting performance, readings of these selections by theatre dybbuk actors are entwined with music sung and manipulated by the musicians of HEX.

Rise and Fall was presented by East Side Jews at SIJCC on April 23 and 24, 2022 and at the N.E.O. Voice Festival on June 29, 2022.

Watch the Rise and Fall trailer here!

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photos by Taso Papadakis from Rise and Fall 

In Defense of Women

May 20, 2021
Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre as part of JFEST and formatted as a live version of our podcast, The Dybbukast, this original work combined scholarship and performed readings surrounding the 16th century Italian poem "In Defense of Women" by Jewish dramatist Leone De' Sommi Portaleone. The event (and festival) was presented online due to the ongoing pandemic.
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Remembering for the Future: A Community-wide Yom HaShoah Commemoration

April 28, 2019
We're proud to have served as the event designer for Remembering for the Future: A Community-wide Yom HaShoah Commemoration – organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles with a wide variety of partners from throughout the city.

photos from Remembering for the Future: A Community-wide Yom HaShoah Commemoration

assemble: modern spin | ancient celebration

October 4, 2015

Conceived by the Center for Jewish Culture and Leichtag Foundation and created by theatre dybbuk for a Sukkot harvest festival, assemble featured ritualized movement and physical theatre, as well as dance, music and more.
assemble production still (2015) photo by 8Twenty8 Studios

staged readings

God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch

April 7, 2019
A staged reading presented by the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language and Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Bronx Express by Osip Dymov translated by Nahma Sandrow

February 26, 2017

A staged reading presented at UCLA by the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language

A Dybbuk by Tony Kushner

February 8, 2015

A staged reading presented at UCLA by the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language

A Dybbuk by Tony Kushner

December 15, 2013
A staged reading presented by the Santa Monica Public Library

A Man's Home by Aaron Henne

May 20, 2012
A staged reading presented by the Santa Monica Public Library

collaborations with sacred spaces

tefillah or prayer: a translation

premiered June 22, 2014
tefillah unpacks the vivid drama and moving humanity inherent in prayer services, by investigating their histories, legacies, and structures.

kippur

premiered August 31, 2013
Originally performed as a play that also served as a Selichot service, the seven days of sitting Shiva serve as a framework for this exploration of atonement and loss.

vessels

premiered April 19, 2013

A short work designed to illuminate the Passover holiday, vessels creates a ritualistic performance experience that focuses on events surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

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