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Joshua Sobol

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Joshua Sobol

Joshua Sobol
Born 1939 (1939)
Tel Mond
Education The Sorbonne
Occupation Playwright, writer and director

Joshua (Yehoshua) Sobol (Hebrew: יהושע סובול‎) (born August 24, 1939), is an Israeli playwright, writer, and director.


  • Biography 1
  • Theater career 2
  • Plays 3
  • Directing 4
  • Teaching 5
  • Published works 6
  • Awards 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Joshua Sobol was born in Tel Mond. His mother's family fled the pogroms in Europe in 1922 and his father's family immigrated from Poland in 1934 to escape the Nazis.[1] Sobol is married to Edna, set and costume designer. They have a daughter, Neta, and a son, Yahli Sobol, a singer and writer. Sobol studied at the Sorbonne, Paris, and graduated with a diploma in philosophy.

Theater career

Sobol's first play was performed in 1971 by the Municipal Theatre in Haifa, where Sobol worked from 1984 to 1988 as a playwright and later assistant artistic director. The performance of his play The Jerusalem Syndrome, in January 1988, led to widespread protests, whereupon Sobol resigned from his post as artistic director.

In 1983, after the Haifa production of his play Weininger's Night (The Soul of a Jew), he was invited to participate in the official part of the Edinburgh Festival. Between 1983 and 1989 Sobol wrote three related plays: Ghetto, Adam and Underground, which constitute together The Ghetto triptich.Ghetto became world famous shortly after its premiere in Haifa in May 1984. The play won the Israeli David's Harp award for best play. The Israeli opening was followed by Peter Zadek's much acclaimed German premiere of the play in July of the same year. The play and the production were chosen by Theater Heute as best production and best foreign play of the year. The play has been translated into more than 20 languages and performed by leading theatres in more than 25 countries throughout the world.

Following Nicholas Hytner's production of the English-language version by David Lan at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain in 1989, the play won the Evening Standard and the London Critics award for Best Play of the Year and was nominated for the Olivier Award in the same category.

Since 1995, Sobol has collaborated with Viennese director Paulus Manker on a number of projects exploring new forms of the theatrical experience.

In 1995 came the first performance of a work commissioned for the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival), Der Vater (The Father), by Niklas Frank and Joshua Sobol, directed by Paulus Manker at the Theater an der Wien. The play is about Niklas Frank‘s father, Hans Frank, who was Hitler’s Governor general in Poland and was hanged in Nuremberg in 1946.

In 1996, they created Alma for the Wiener Festwochen. Alma is a polydrama based on the life of Alma Mahler-Werfel. It played in Vienna for six successive seasons and toured to Venice, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Berlin, Jerusalem and Prague. In the Vienna production, the scenes of Alma’s life were performed simultaneously on all floors and in all rooms of a former Jugendstil sanatorium near Vienna. The guests were invited to abandon the immobilized position of spectator in a conventional drama, replace it with the mobile activity of traveller, thus partaking in a "theatrical journey". By choosing the events, the path, and the person to follow after each event, each participant constructed her or his personal version of the "Polydrama".

In 2000, Sobol and Manker created F@LCO – A CYBER SHOW, a multimedia musical about the Austrian pop singer Falco. Staged in the former Varieté theatre Ronacher in Vienna, F@LCO offered the audience a choice between a more expensive, passive ticket for the boxes or the balconies, from which spectators could only watch the show from distance, or a cheap, active ticket on the floor, close to the rostrum (in the shape of @, the Internet at symbol) on which the show was performed. This position allowed the active spectator to move around during the show, dance and buy drinks at the bars installed under the catwalks.


  • 1971 THE DAYS TO COME – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1973 STATUS QUO VADIS – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1974 SYLVESTER 72 – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1975 THE JOKER – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1976 The Night of the Twentieth (Hebrew: ליל העשרים) Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1976 NERVES – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1977 TENANTS – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1977 GOG & MAGOG SHOW – Zavta Cultural Club, Tel Aviv
  • 1977 REPENTANCE – Zavta Cultural Club, Tel Aviv
  • 1978 HOMEWARD ANGEL – Habima
  • 1979 WEDDING NIGHT – Habima
  • 1980 THE LAST WORKER – Beit Leissin Theatre, Tel Aviv
  • 1981 WARS OF THE JEWS – Jerusalem Khan Theatre
  • 1982 WEININGER'S NIGHT – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1984 GHETTO (Hebrew: גטו) Haifa Municipal Theatre; FREIE VOLKSBUHNE, Berlin
  • 1984 PASODOBLE – Zavta Cultural Club, Tel Aviv
  • 1985 PALESTINIAN GIRL – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1986 COUNTDOWN – Zavta Cultural Club, Tel Aviv
  • 1987 Jerusalem Syndrome (Hebrew: סינדרום ישרולים) – Haifa Municipal Theatre
  • 1989 ADAM – Habima
  • 1991 SOLO – DE APPEL – THE HAGUE; Habima
  • 1991 A&B – Dortmund
  • 1991 EYE TO EYE – Mannheim (1994)
  • 1992 RING TWICE – Royal National Theatre, Oslo 1997
  • 1993 NICE TONI – Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, June 1994
  • 1993 SCHNEIDER AND SHUSTER – BASEL 1994; Gorki Theater, Berlin
  • 1994 THE MASKED BALL – Haifa Municipal Theatre (2001)
  • 1994 BLOODY NATHAN – Volkstheater Wien, Vienna, 1996
  • 1995 THE FATHER Wiener Festwochen, 1995.
  • 1995 VILLAGE – Gesher Theatre, Tel Aviv (February 1996)
  • 1996 ALMA – Vienna Festival Week, Vienna (1996)
  • 1996 Honey (Hebrew: דבש) Haifa Municipal Theatre (1997)
  • 1997 MA NI MA MAMA – Zavta Cultural Club, Tel Aviv, Festival of One Act Plays 97.
  • 1997 HOME CINEMA Not yet produced
  • 1998 Strangers (Hebrew: זרים) Habima (1999)
  • 1999 FALCO RONACHER THEATER, Vienna, April 1, 2000
  • 1999 LA TORANA (Not yet produced)
  • 2000 Gebirtig (Hebrew: גבירטיג) based on Mordechai GebirtigYiddishpiel (2000)
  • 2000 17 TOP COMPAGNIETHEATER, Amsterdam 2002
  • 2001 CROCODILES Herzliya Theatre (November 2001)
  • 2002 iWitness (Hebrew: עד ראייה; lit. "eyewitness") based on the story of Franz JägerstätterCameri Theater (2002)
  • 2002 REAL TIME


  • GHETTO in Essen and Bremen, Germany
  • GOLDBERG VARIATIONS, by George Tabori, Dortmund, Germany, 1993
  • ADAM – in Manheim, Germany, 1993.
  • SCHNEIDER AND SHUSTER – Basel Theatre, Switzerland, 1994
  • NICE TONI – The Khan & The Jerusalem Theatre, September 1994
  • GHETTO – Hartke Theatre, Washington D.C., 1995
  • GENS [A comprehensive version of the Ghetto Triptych] – Weimar 1995
  • GHETTO – Haifa Municipal Theatre, January 1998
  • ALMA – Cameri Theatre, Tel Aviv, December 1998
  • GHETTO – Wesleyan University Theatre, November 2000
  • THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – Illinois Shakespeare Festival. 2002


  • 1972–84 Actors Training School, Seminar Hakibutzim – Lecturer on Aesthetics
  • 1972–84 Beit Zvi Actors Training School – Workshop Director: Writing Drama
  • 1995–2002 Tel Aviv University – Workshop Director: Writing Drama
  • 1997–98 Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva – Lectures on Drama; Workshop: Writing Drama
  • 1996–99 Sam Spiegel Film & TV School, Jerusalem – Script Writing Workshop
  • 2000 Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA – Documentary drama
  • 2001 Tel Aviv University, Department of Literature – Lectures on Modern and contemporary Theatre
  • 2001–02
  • 2003 Bezalel School of Architecture – Ethics and Art
  • Ben Gurion University Beer Sheva
  • 2012 University of Washington – Guest Faculty: Playwriting

Published works

(partial list)

  • 2000 Silence– A Novel – published by The New Library, Tel Aviv
  • 2001 Schweigen (Silence) – Published by Luchterhand Verlag, Munich
  • 2002 The Masked Ball – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 2002 Swijgen (Silence) – Published by Byblos, Amsterdam
  • 1999 Alma – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1998 Alma – play (German) – Published by Paulus Manker, Vienna
  • 1998 Palestinian Girl (English) – Published by Loki Books, London
  • 1996 Village – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1994 Solo – play (French & English) – Published by Cierec, Saint Etienne
  • 1991 Solo – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1991 Weininger’s Night – play – Published by Cahiers Bernard Lazare, Paris
  • 1990 Underground – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1990 Night of the 20th – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1989 Adam – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1989 Ghetto – play (English) – Published by Nick Hern Books, London
  • 1988 Weiningers Nacht - play (German) – Published by Paulus Manker, Vienna
  • 1987 The Jerusalem Syndrome – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1985 The Palestinian Girl – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1984 Ghetto – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1982 Soul of a Jew – play (Hebrew) – Published by Or – Am, Tel Aviv
  • 1976 Night of the Twentieth – play, (Hebrew) – Published by Proza, Tel Aviv


  • 1976 – NIGHT OF THE TWENTIETH – David’s Harp Award – Best Play of the Year
  • 1976 – NIGHT OF THE TWENTIETH – David Pinski Award
  • 1979 HOMEWARDS ANGEL – David’s Harp Award – Israel’s Best Play of the Year
  • 1980 THE LAST WORKER – David’s Harp Award – Israel’s Best Play of the year
  • 1982 WEININGER’S NIGHT – David’s Harp Award – Israel’s Best Play of the Year
  • 1983 WEININGER’S NIGHT – Meskin Award for Best Play of the Year
  • 1984 GHETTO – David’s Harp Award – Israel’s Best Play of the Year
  • 1985 GHETTO – Theater Heute German Critics’ Choice – Best Foreign Play
  • 1986 THE PALESTINIAN GIRL – Issam Sirtawi Award
  • 1989 GHETTO – The Evening Standard award for Best Play of the Year. London
  • 1989 GHETTO – Critics' Circle Theatre Awards – Best New Play
  • 1990 GHETTO – Laurence Olivier Awards – Award Nomination – Best Play
  • 1995 GHETTO – Mainichi Art Prize – Best play of the year – Tokyo, Japan
  • 1996 GHETTO – Yumiuri Shimbun Grand Prize best play of the year, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1996 GHETTO – Yoshiko Yuasa Prize – Best play of the year. Tokyo, Japan
  • 2001 SILENCE – Sapir Award Nomination – Best Novel of the Year

See also


  1. ^ Joshua Sobol on the suicidal tendency of Judaism, Haaretz

External links

  • Biographical notes on the ALMA website Text of this site served for the basic WorldHeritage entry, done with permission of Joshua Sobol and Paulus Manker.
  • Interview with Sobol on "Polydrama"
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