Hanoch Levin Premieres Last Play
Hanoch Levin (right) works with Oded Kotler on the play “The Patriot” in 1982. (Credit: Dan Hadani Collection, National Library of Israel, CC BY 4.0)
March 19, 1999

Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin’s final play, “Requiem,” makes its debut at the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. The play is based on three short stories by Anton Chekhov.

Levin dies of bone cancer at age 56 later in 1999 after a three-decade career in which he writes approximately 50 plays, 34 of which are produced. Prime Minister Ehud Barak calls him “one of the greatest playwrights that Israel has ever had.”

His work is generally satirical and often controversial. “The Queen of the Bathtub,” which makes fun of Golda Meir and the War of Attrition, closed after 18 performances; “The Patriot” was banned by Israel’s Film and Theater Censorship Board in 1982.

One of his earliest plays, “You, Me and the Next War,” premiered amid the jubilation after the June 1967 war and critiqued the celebratory fervor that had swept the country. His plays regularly offered unpopular perspectives on such sensitive issues, such as the relationship between Israel and the territories captured in 1967 and the cyclical violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Levin was a co-recipient of the Bialik Prize for literature in 1994. He remains popular in Israel, where many of his plays are performed regularly, but few of his plays have been translated and performed abroad.