Hanoch Levin

Hanoch Levin’s Anti-Tragedy

Detail from Yosl Bergner, The Collection

Hanoch Levin (1943-1999), Israel’s foremost playwright, wrote satires, comedies, and “mythological plays”, plays based on mythological material from the Greco-Roman as well as the Jewish traditions. My current research centers on two of his works that explicitly refer to Greek tragedies: The Lost Women of Troy from the early 1980s, an adaptation of Euripides’ Trojan Women and Hecuba, and The Moaners, the last play Levin wrote, in the heart of which stands a production of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon as a play-within-a-play. My reading of these plays suggests that Levin uses the ancient material to critique the notion of heroism, particularly as it has been structured by the Israeli national narrative. His radical, often sensational adaptations, put forth an anti-tragic viewpoint that is ultimately deeply humanistic.

I have presented some of this work at the 2019 meeting of the ALSCW (Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers), and at a joint meeting of the Rhetoric & Poetic and Jewish Studies workshops at the University of Chicago.

My article “An Israeli-Palestinian Hecuba: Hanoch Levin’s Anti-Tragedy” is currently under review.