2 Sessions amalgamated:

How to make Non-Zionist Jewish theatre – Entirely Distinct from Anti-Zionist theatre –

Non-Zionist is merely Jewish theatre that does not promote Zionism.

& Whether Jewish theatre was required to be political post Oct 7th

The question was posed: Where / When does history start?

For example - Australia as a relatively new nation – the indigenous people are very pro-Palestinian.

How can theatre ever be non-political in this context?

The JW3 Panto was raised as an example and specifically the JW3 pantomime which avoided politics.

However - even silence in this context becomes political.

A practitioner explained that they made an explicit political statement on the poster for their show laying out their position, adding that panto was political because any play featuring queer people is political.

The absence of Israel in Jewish spaces is also political building non-Zionist identiy and identity of Jewish diaspora.

The statement on the poster was so people know what they’re getting – the public statement was met with a question as to whether Zionists would be comfortable at the show?
A comment was made recounting the Paul Curry incident at Soho Theatre where a Jewish audience member was ‘hounded’ out for not standing for the Palestinian flag.
The Jewish audience member was yelled at & the comedian encouraged others harangue he was bullied out of the space.

A new speaker added - We’ve reached such a position of politicisation that a question asked in good faith is only satisfied by 1 acceptable answer.
This session is the most Jewish title of any in the Open Space was the humorous assessment of one speaker. It is SO Jewish to use the phrase ‘non-Zionist’ so carefully.
There are 2 types of Non-Zionist theatre – the main one designed not to upset anyone Debate and discussion is now impossible. The Paul Curry incident a perfect example – the issue dense and complex but political theatre becoming demagoguery. The war will end. Will the end bring a whole new orthodoxy?

Two practitioners reflected on how they both removed reference to ‘British Mandate Palestine’ from work although it was historically factually correct, in response to the sensitivity of the current climate.

It was noted that Jewish theatre was debating these themes 100 years ago – Zionist/Non-Zionist. 100 years of circularity

There was a suggestion that despite The Yiddish professor at Harvard and dominance of Yiddish – Zionism has come at cost to Jewish culture – there is no Yiddish or Ladino – just modern Hebrew in Israeli culture.

A practitioner working on a solo play added - Yiddish is non-Zionist practice. Identity politics means theatre no longer pushes empathy for other perspective. Your politics are your piece. Your identity is your perspective. Hence dominance of solo shows at the fringe.

Theatre can be about people the audience know nothing about - without doing this/ referencing culture explicitly.

The audience recognises authenticity even if they don’t understand. We don’t need lines like ‘Mother, is that Challa?’

The session broke up when a speaker joined and repeatedly challenged all members of the group to ‘state their position.’