Yiddish Theater as a Cultural Lifeline during the Holocaust, with Debra Caplan

Join us for a free virtual talk on Thursday, December 7 @ 7:00 p.m. ET

On the eve of World War II, Poland was the epicenter of the global Yiddish theater scene. Yiddish theater continued to be performed during the war years in ghettos and concentration camps and then, in the war’s immediate aftermath, in displaced persons camps.

Join us for a free virtual talk on Thursday, December 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET, as Professor Debra Caplan explores how Yiddish theater offered a cultural lifeline and psychological escape hatch for Jews during the Holocaust, as well as how plays and performances helped survivors to find community and rebuild their lives in the DP camps.

Woman with dark shoulder length hair and glasses

Debra Caplan is associate professor of theater at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, specializing in Yiddish theater and performance history. Her first book, Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy (University of Michigan Press, 2018), won the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association for best new book in theater and performance studies and the Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies from the Modern Language Association. Her second book, The Dybbuk Century: The Jewish Play That Possessed the World—a collection of essays about the iconic play The Dybbuk co-edited with Rachel Merrill Moss—is forthcoming this October. Currently she is working on a biography of the legendary Yiddish performer and lyricist Molly Picon.

Debra’s writing has appeared in Pakn Treger, American Theatre Magazine, Theatre Survey, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, Performance ResearchNew England Theater JournalComparative DramaIn Geveb: A Journal of Yiddish StudiesAmerican Jewish HistoryAschkenas, and Studies in American Jewish Literature, among others. She is co-founder of the Digital Yiddish Theater Project, an international Yiddish theater research collective that applies digital tools to the study of Yiddish theater. She is also a director, dramaturge, and theater translator.