When it comes to theatres, Tel Aviv is a truly rich place. When you go on one of the wonderful tours to Israel, make sure to include as many of these splendid places of art and creativity as you can. From the country’s national theatre to small, avant-garde theatres, there is a place for everyone, and everyone is welcomed. You can see original Israeli plays in some theatres, but also international classics, contemporary hits, and cabarets in others. Either way, you are in for a treat. Let’s check out some of Tel Aviv’s theatres you must visit this autumn.
Founded in October 1944 and now housed at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre in Central Tel Aviv, the Cameri is one of the leading, best-known, and the most respected theatres in Israel. Because the Cameri Theatre places an emphasis on original Israeli plays that speak of important Israeli issues, written by leading local playwrights and directors, with local actors and set designers, it was a recipient of the Israel Award for contributing to Israeli society. Besides Israeli plays, some of them with English subtitles, you can also see classical plays, modern dramas, and musicals, as well as contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare, Brecht, Ibsen, etc.
Interestingly, the Habima Theatre (lit. ‘The Stage Theatre’) was founded in Białystok, Russia, in 1912, where it was showing performances in Hebrew and presenting the Jewish folk tradition and issues of the Jewish people. Now located in the center of Tel Aviv, the Habima has been officially considered the national theatre of Israel since 1958. That year, it received the Israel Prize for theatre. This beautiful example of urban landscaping is home to the Mann Auditorium, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, restaurants, and cafes. The theatre shows exhibitions, independent plays, original plays in Hebrew (twice a week with English or Russian subtitles), as well as global classics.
This award-winning Arab-Hebrew Theatre is located in Old Jaffa’s multi-arched building, in a truly lovely location overlooking the sea. The unique theatre is founded in 1998 as a wonderful collaboration between two theatre companies with Jewish and Arab artists. On some productions, they work independently, but they come together to create plays that examine and present the rich Arab and Jewish culture in Israel. The Jaffa Theatre also holds three excellent major annual festivals: Theatroneto, The Jaffa Children’s Festival, and The Festival of Arab Culture.
In 1991, Yevgeny Arye emigrated from Moscow to Israel with a group of Russian actors and founded the Gesher Theater, becoming the theatre’s Artistic Director. Located in Jaffa on the stunning Jerusalem Boulevard, the Gesher shows plays written by Russian writers, productions in Hebrew, and international classics as well. The plays are in Russian and Hebrew, often with subtitles in multiple languages. As ‘gesher’ means ‘bridge’ in Hebrew, this wonderful theatre is a symbol of connecting Israel’s many cultures and languages: Yiddish, Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, Amharic, Russian, French, and English.
Founded in 1958 by poet Avraham Shlonsky, The Tzavta Theater is a small, independent, alternative performance theatre located in the London Ministore. It shows productions from private theatre groups, including comedies, artistic, cultural, and political shows, but it also invites lecturers for political debates it organizes. It was established as a center for progressive culture and is still a major cultural, intellectual, and artistic hub.
Established in 1978 by Yaakov Agmon for the General Organisation of Workers in Israel, the Beit Lessin Theater is today one of the major theatres in Tel Aviv, showing its plays at three different venues. Its focus is on contemporary European and American plays and on original productions that explore Israel’s political and social situations, as well as its distinct and diverse culture. It shows plays for children too. Every year, the Beit Lessin hosts the Open Stage Festival where you can see excellent original plays from Israel, but new playwrights can also present their work to the wider audience, which is an immensely important chance for these artists. Since its opening, this relatively young theatre has shown over a thousand contemporary European and American plays, and original productions too, while its production ‘Mikveh’ won the Israeli Theatre Prize in 2005.
If you are interested in fringe theatre, performance, music, dancing, readings, and much, much more, then the Tmuna is definitely the place for you. Established in 1987, the Tmuna Theater is a fringe theatre with a distinct, artistic atmosphere, which features avant-garde plays, and numerous different types of productions and events, such as brilliant literature and poetry readings and fine arts exhibitions, but also amazing music concerts, and even dance shows. And while you enjoy watching and participating in all this fun, you can have snacks and a beer, or some other drink.