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 article “An Israeli-Palestinian Hecuba: Hanoch Levin’s Anti-Tragedy” has been published by Oxford University Press (2021). This article represents part of my research on two of Levin’s works that most explicitly engage with Greek tragedy, his early 1980s play The Lost Women of Troy – 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.