"His plays open windows into our souls, to draw whatever we need from those deep chambers." - London Guardian
An icon during his life, Hanoch Levin was Israel's most esteemed playwright. Prolific and controversial, his dark comedies, of great psychological insight and poetry, have both shocked and entranced his audiences.
A gripping story teller, trenchant, witty and poetic, Levin talks about the human condition in the most lucid, merciless, humorous, comprehensive and profound way. His plays provide no answers, only questions.
Like Pinter, Levin can delve deeply into a family's dysfunctionality; like Stoppard, he can take form and make it the essence of the play; like Ayckbourne, he uses comic routines to portray a black and sinister tale.
All his plays are rooted in Israeli society, but they carry a universal message transcending the local. Death--physical and spiritual, torture and humiliation, are recurring themes in Levin's creative world.
Levin spent more than three decades trying to strip the nation of its self-congratulatory armor; to force it to examine what he considered its hypocrisy and self-delusion. He rose to prominence in 1968, with a scorching satire, You, Me and the Next War--a fierce critique of the euphoria and smugness that swept the country in the aftermath of its victory in the Six Day War, when Israel found itself the military ruler of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. He predicted the Israeli attitude would lead to another war.
Levin's Queen of the Bathtub (1970) created an even greater storm. It lampooned then prime minister Golda Meir and her cronies, and the war of attrition in which they were engaged. Performed at the Cameri, it created an uproar, closing after 18 performances.
One of Levin's last plays, Murder (1997), examines the vicious cycle of violence, between Israelis and Palestinians. Featuring Jewish and Arab actors, the play blames all sides for the violence. Murder received all the top Israeli Academy Awards.
Levin's poetic style reached its peak with Requiem, written when the playwright knew his own death was approaching. This play, too, got top Academy theatrical awards.
In total, Levin wrote 56 plays: political satires, family and neighborhood plays, and mythical plays. Of the 35 plays produced--the majority of them at the Cameri Theater--Levin directed many himself.
Levin won numerous prestigious awards for his plays, as well as the one at the Edinburgh Festival. Several of his plays have been translated and performed in London, New York, Parma, Berlin, Budapest, Athens and Hanover.
Levin kept working until the very end, holding auditions for his newest play, Whiners, from his hospital bed in Tel Aviv.