Purimspiel

Purimspiels & Where to Find Them

1. Background: On Purimspiels and Plays

It is generally thought that Purim parodies began as rhyming declamations in the 12th century, graduating to parodial tractates and books in the 13th and 14th centuries – and from there into plays in the 16th century. They may, however, have a far more sinister origin in the custom of hanging and beating of an effigy of Haman in the late Roman Empire (5th century), which were recounted by the Church as real crucifixions and served as the grounds for antisemitic attacks on synagogues and Jews.

The chronological context of the Purim parody's development would have been the stylised drama and morality plays of the Middle Ages, as well as other customs related to folk theater in various countries - such as strolling players and the more informal comi-religious dramatic troupes of "Mummers" (entertainers), clowns and bards, whose performances were held in wealthy private homes, in return for a fee. Parallels in the development of the Purimspiel can justifiably be drawn with the manifestations and trappings of the Carnivale in southern Europe.

From satirical treatises on Purim and absurd Talmudical pilpul, in medieval Italy and Southern France, there appears to be a development into grotesque parodies in the mid-17th century. In Yiddish theater particularly, Purim plays and spiels developed over four centuries into inter-connected and distinctive genres, retaining the flavor of and subject matter related to Jewish community life in northern and eastern Europe. 

The recognizably modern Purimspiel emerged in its dramatic-musical format in the 19th century, in Germany, influenced by opera and the changing perceptions of Jewish community life in western Europe. The subject matter similarly became westernized, both socially and politically: sometimes the spiel was almost indistinguishable from the formal Purim play or musical.

Since then, Purimspiels – whether in their minimalistic spoofs or at their most bombastic performances – have also tended to satirize contemporary political culture while continuing to take in the musical culture of their day – from opera through rock and pop to hip-hop. Whether amateur or professional, they have moved far from their theological and folkloristic origins, but continue to offer a vehicle for satire and comedy about Jewish life and major issues of the day.

In their credit, Purimspiels continued to be written and performed as interpretative Jewish fringe theater in times of repression during the twentieth century, thus retaining an essence of the original spiel: a humurous blast of the absurd in an era of darkness.

2. Best of the Web

A. History & Concepts

U. Calgary - Eliezer Segal: Purim, Parody and Pilpul
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/880219_Purim_Parody.html

Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, NY - Rabbi Felicia Sol:
The Purimspiel: Exploring the Dialogue of the Hidden http://www.bj.org/par_01spring/purimspiel.html

Eclectica Magazine v7n2 - Barbara Cohen-Kligerman: Purimspiel in the DP Camp
http://www.eclectica.org/v7n2/cohen_kligerman.html

Jewish Encyclopedia.com: PARODY
http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=81&letter=P 
 
Jewish Heritage Online Magazine
http://www.jhom.com/calendar/adar/parody.htm

Jewish Theatre: Low Culture in the Purimshpil
http://www.jewish-theatre.com/visitor/article_display.aspx?articleID=1760 

Judaism about com: Chronology, typology & 4 links
http://judaism.about.com/od/purim/a/purim_play.htm 

YTF - Yiddish Theatre Forum
http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/ytf/ytf03002.htm  

Songs, Scenes & Parodies - Downloads

Akhlah: Purim Play for Children
http://www.akhlah.com/holidays/purim/purim_play.php

Cantor Solomon: The Story of the Orphan Queen
http://orphanqueen.com/music.html

Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, West Newton, MA: 1 FINAL SPIEL
http://www.dorsheitzedek.org/purimspiel-2004.pdf 

Diaspora Yeshiva/Shema Yisrael: The Cyber Purim Play [16 scenes]
http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/purim/purim_play/index.htm

Steve Hausman: Esther's Tale
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Susieq/esther.htm

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation - Purim Shpiels:
Megillah summary in verse http://www.jrf.org/torahquest/purim/purim-rhymed.htm 
Here's looking at you, Esther [Casablanca spoof] http://www.jrf.org/torahquest/purim/purim-play.pdf

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Kol Halev, Cleveland: Purim Play 2005,
scripts & lyrics http://www.kolhalev.net/album/2005/2005-purim.html

Kol Neshama's "Purimshpiel", Purim 2002
http://www.kolneshama.org/purimshpiel.htm

My Jewish Learning.com: Purim International
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Purim/TO_Purim_Community/Plays/Shpiel_International.htm 

Nurit Reshef: Nurit's Purimspil
http://www.bus.ualberta.ca/yreshef/purim/purimindex.html
http://www.jafi.org.il/education/diaspora/links/purim.html
  
Ohr Somayach – Purim: Parodies of our Publications
http://www.ohr.edu/yhiy.php/holidays/purim/parodies_of_our_publications/ 

Telshemesh.org - Earth-based traditions in Judaism: A Spring Purim Play
[mock trial] http://telshemesh.org/shevat/a_spring_purim_play.html  

Temple Beth El, Niagara Falls, NY, Ann Kushner: Estherella - a Purim Play
http://www.ccastle.org/aesther.html

TorahTots:
Rhyming spiel with Yiddish experessions http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/purim/purshple.htm 
Audio spiel http://www.torahtots.com/music/purimshpeil.ram
URJ: Songs and Parodies for Purim
http://ot006.urj.net/purim.htm 


Sales & Spielers

Belgrade Festival - Jedan Svet - One World: The Miracle of Purim. Poland, 2000. Film
http://www.oneworld.org.yu/miraclepurime.htm

Beth El Synagogue, Minneapolis. Script
http://www.purimshpiel.com/

Cantor Solomon: The Story of the Orphan Queen. Music CDs
http://orphanqueen.com/

Queen Esther Movie: One Night With The King
http://queen-esther-movie.com/qe/Purim/Purim-Holiday.shtml

Singlish: 6 Purim Plays
http://www.singlishps.net/Purim.htm

Shoshana Silberman: Megillah story & 10-act play
http://www.amazon.com/Whole-Megillah-Shoshana-Silberman/dp/0929371232

The Story of Esther Theater, Los Gatos, CA [The Soviet Jewry Struggle]. Performance
http://www.thestoryofesther.org/

Tel Aviv University, Ahuva Belkin - The Purimshpil: Studies in Jewish Folk Theatre. Book
http://www.tau.ac.il/arts/projects/PUB/Theatre_Books/2002/Purimshpil.html  

Temple Beth Sholom, Southern California. Script
http://www.tbsoc.com/purimshpiel.html

Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo – Dr Grant Golden: The GG Purimspiel. Script
http://www.ggpurimspiel.com/ 

Temple Rodeph Torah, Marlboro, NJ: Squanto Teaches the Pilgrims to Fish. Script
http://www.purimspiel.net/ 

Amy Tobin: The Esther Show. Performance
http://www.amytobin.com/esther.html

Boris Yoffe -  Racine's treatment of the Biblical story [German/French]. Libretto
http://www.borisyoffe.de/englisch/oper.htm   - and www.esther-de-racine.com
 

Images

Congregation Beth Israel: Purimspiel 2004, 2001
http://www.bethisrael.com/Purimspiel/2004/Purimspiel.htm 

"The Cracow Wedding" Purimshpil. http://www.nyu.edu/classes/bkg/MK/MK_images/pages/purim.html

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Kol Halev, Cleveland: Purim Play images in slideshow http://kolhalev.net/gallery/slideshow.php?set_albumName=Purim2005

Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, Edison, NJ: Purim Play by Mrs. Luban's Second Grade http://www.rpry.org/student/purim_play.htm

Rembrandt: Haman begging the Mercy of Esther
http://art.museum.ro/pozema/rembm.html

Ruth Taylor Jacobson: Stained Glass Artist 1. Masks for a Purimspiel http://www.ruthjacobson.com/purim.html

Temple Sinai: Purimspiel
http://www.templesinaipgh.org/special_events/Purimspiel.html

Purim in Vitebsk [Russian]
http://www.purimshpil.com/


 

 

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06 Feb 2007 / 18 Shevat 5767 0