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The National Theater of Israel About Habima - Who We Are

HaBima – Who We Are

"The HaBima Theater is not just an artistic institution – it is the cornerstone of the revival

of the Hebrew language and culture as well as designing the culture of life in Israel


AB Yehoshua, Amos Oz, David Grossman and Yehoshua Sobol, in

their letter to the Minister of Education, dated 27.04.2005

The cornerstone laying ceremony at the HaBima Theater, Tel Aviv. 1935

Every night, when the curtain goes up in the HaBima National Theater, a dream which began in Moscow in 1913 and came to fruition in Tel Aviv, is reborn as it captivates its audiences time and again. According to the traditions of founders Hannah Rubina, and Aaron Baskin, the HaBima is still devoted to promoting unique theater - to create and foster a new generation of leading actors and theater professionals.

The HaBima Theater has been, is and will continue to reflect the Israeli cultural “mood” since its foundation and is committed to the promotion and perpetuation of the Hebrew language and its culture. Memorializing the State of Israel –committing the design of its identity to posterity, via plays, special events and theater seminars with the young people and more peripheral communities, few of whom have had the opportunity to see experience professional theater.

Promoting Issues of National Significance

HaBima’s plays deal with questions regarding war and peace; confront Arab-Israeli relations; focus on tensions between both religious and secular Jews, between Olim Hadashim (immigrants) and Zabarim (native-Israelis); examine the status of women; investigate the dynamics in relations between the generations; raise questions regarding bureaucratic corruption; explore Jewish themes and history; describe life in the shadow of the Holocaust, deal with history and Israeli society as well as the lives of “foreign workers” who live in the country as well.

The aspirations and problems that epitomize Israel are also in classical plays that have been innovatively produced to shed light on relevant issues of the day –from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, to Gogol’s Revizor and Antigone by Sophocles.

Avi Kushnir in The King and the Cobbler

A Dialogue with Different Audiences

HaBima conducts ongoing collaborations with diverse audiences through various activities funded by The Friends of the HaBima National Theater Organization, including;

* Theater “Fun-days” for young people: participants are shuttled to and from the Theater where they debate before a play, take part in improvisational exercises, study acting, directing and props, tour the backstage area as well as learning about the rich history of the Theater itself.

* Cultural Study Days for Soldiers

* Year-long weekly theater seminars for junior high-school students

* Universal Access: simultaneous translations to our plays, closed captioning and headsets available as well as senior discounts.

* Annual awards given to theater professionals for outstanding achievements in their work. HaBima has performances throughout the country, giving the Israeli public, from anywhere at any age, the opportunity to participate in theater - Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, young and old, from the central region to the periphery; Zabarim and Olim Hadashim.

Praise from Both Audiences and Critics

The HaBima National Theater has attracted many internationally famous directors to its stage over the years: Tyrone Guthrie, Harold Clurman, Andrzej Wajda, Joseph Chaikin, Steven Berkoff, Lee Strasberg, Yuri Lyubimov, Jerome Savary and Julius Gellner. HaBima has represented Israel in the world’s most prestigious theater festivals like the Stuttgart Festival (1980); Festival of Quebec (1986); Festival Berlin; Festival Goldoni Venice / Rome (1993); Ibsen Festival in Oslo (1996), in which the Norwegian daily "Dagbladt" wrote about HaBima’s play Ghosts” a search after new and exciting ways to combine high aesthetics with sharp, social criticism…” In light of HaBima joining the UTE (Union of the Theatres of Europe), the Theater often goes on European tours. The first European premiere was a successful tour of “War”, which won wide acclaim. The Italian widely published newspaper La Stampa wrote, "amazing show which leaves theaudience open-mouthed."

HaBima productions have won praise around the globe as well as at home where the Israeli audience has chosen it time and again as the leading theater in Israel. Its actors, composers, directors and set designers have won numerous awards for their work including The Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor.

Pictured: Ghosts”, Yael Hadar

Nurturing the Next Generation of Theater People

The Theater provides a home for creativity and an incubator for playwrights, directors, actors and designers, where they can develop their talents, gain experience and develop. The Young HaBima Company, founded 12 years ago by artistic director, Ilan Ronen, performs its plays within the country and even went abroad with its play "The Caucasian Chalk Troupe".

The Theater employs over 300 actors, stage, technical, management and administrative staff – one quarter of who are new immigrants from Russia.

HaBima Sets its Eyes on the Future – Excellence Combined with Contributing to


With its continued look towards the future and its brand new home, The HaBima National Theater:

* Will expand and deepen its commitment to Israeli culture and the Hebrew language, continue to address social issues and promote and strengthen the dialogue between all Israelis.

* Will strengthen ties with Jews and Israelis abroad, will expose them to current Israeli theater at its best with a series of special performances in honor 60th anniversary of Israel celebrations.

* Will waive the banner of promoting excellence in theater by establishing a new school that will foster production of a new generation of leading actors and playwrights and will perpetuate in them, the tradition of the founders of the Theater, thus creating a whole new generation of theater people.

* Renews its commitment to Israel's peripheral areas, and will dedicate a two-year renovation period to conduct tours within Israel and perform in front of audiences, many of whom are not familiar with professional theater productions – due to lack of finances or facilities in their communities.

* Will perpetuate its role as a mirror for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and as an arena for dialogue between Jews and Arabs, based on joint projects which will emphasize similarities rather than differences.

* Will strive to memorialize its leading actors in attempt to gain international acclaim out of a desire to inculcate professional excellence.

* Will continue to take part in cooperative projects with institutions and bodies such as the Tel Aviv University Theater Department, promoting and creating original, Israeli drama and in creating an academic and public dialogue concerning various issues in the Performing Arts.

Pictured: The Young HaBima Company in “Catch 22”.