Purim spiel

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Purim spiel performance in The Jewish Theatre of Warsaw, Poland in March 2009

A Purim spiel (also spelled Purimshpil, Yiddish: פּורימשפּיל‎, from Yiddish shpil, meaning 'game, play', see also spiel) or Purim play is an ensemble of festive practices for Purim. It is usually a comic dramatization of the Book of Esther, the central text and narrative that describes what transpired on Purim and why it is celebrated as an important Jewish holiday.

History[edit]

The Purim spiel is considered the "only genuine folk theater that has survived a thousand years in European culture."[1] Integrating texts, theater, music, dance, songs, mimes, and costumes, the Purim spiel is considered to be the origin of Yiddish theatre.[2] The descriptive term "Purim spiel" became widely used among Ashkenazi Jews as early as the mid-1500s.[1]

By the 18th century in eastern Romania and some other parts of Eastern Europe, Purim spiels had evolved into broad-ranging satires with music and dance, for which the story of Esther was little more than a pretext: indeed, by the mid-19th century, some were even based on other stories, such as Joseph sold by his brothers, Daniel, or the Binding of Isaac. Since satire was deemed inappropriate for a synagogue, these were usually performed outdoors in the synagogue courtyard.

Modern practice[edit]

Purim spiels are performed annually in many American synagogues,[3] and are still performed in many European communities. In France, Purim plays continue to be widely performed, particularly in active Ashkenazi communities.[2]

In many modern-day synagogues, a Purim spiel is an informal theatrical production with costumed participants, often including children. Purim spiels often include parodies of popular songs or well-known musicals.[3][4][5] Typically, each congregation writes its own new Purim spiel every year, or acquires a new script from elsewhere.[6] Purim spiels are often used to satirically address modern social and political issues through the biblical narrative, "using the ancient story to poke fun at current reality."[7][8]

Other traditional forms of Purim spiel have included puppet shows for children, reenacting the Purim story with the Purim characters performing comic antics.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Leuchter, Janet (2014). "The Fascinating Evolution of the Purim-Spiel". ReformJudaism.org. Union of Reform Judaism. Archived from the original on 2017-03-17.
  2. ^ a b "Fiche d'Inventaire du Patrimoine Culturel Immatériel de la France: " Pourim-shpil "" [Inventory Sheet of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of France: "Purim-spiel"] (PDF) (in French). France: Ministère de la Culture. December 16, 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-17.
  3. ^ a b Merwin, Ted (February 20, 2018). "What's in a Spiel? Plenty". The New York Jewish Week. Archived from the original on 2019-01-18.
  4. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (March 18, 2016). "Purim! The Musical". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2016-04-15.
  5. ^ "Mean Persians: The Purim Musical". Mean Persians. 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-01-12.
  6. ^ Dreskin, Billy (February 27, 2017). "Get in on the Act: Yes, You Can Write a Purim Spiel!". Union for Reform Judaism. Archived from the original on 2019-02-11.
  7. ^ Simon, Scott (host); Prichep, Deena (March 11, 2017). "Jewish Synagogues Celebrate Purim With Plays". Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR. KQED Public Media. Archived from the original on 2017-04-22.
  8. ^ Pogrebin, Abigail (February 24, 2017). "Purim: A dark story, a crazy party, and a call to leadership". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on 2019-02-11.

Further reading[edit]