• Issue: September 2017
  • Designer: Rinat Gilboa
  • Stamp Size: 30 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 1065
  • Security mark: Microtext
  • Sheet of 15 stamp, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Cartor Security Printing, France
  • Method of printing: Offset

The Habimah National Theatre was founded by Nachum Zemach, Menachem Gnessin and Hanna Rovina in Moscow in 1917 under the name "The Hebrew Language Theatre". Zemach met with Konstantin Stanislayski, director of the Moscow Art Theatre, who agreed to make Habimah an Art Theatre studio and appointed his student Yevgeny Vakhtangov to be the artistic instructor for the "Habimah Young Hebrews Company". Stalin, who served as the Minister for Minority Affairs at the time, personally approved the endeavor.

The first play performed by Habimah was "Neshef Bereshit', directed by Vakhtangov in 1918. But the theatre's first true claim to fame came in 1922, with the play "The Dybbuk' and the especially noted performance by Hanna Rovina. Her legendary portrayal of Leah, the bride who was possessed by the dybbuk, later became one of the iconic symbols of the Habimah Theatre.

The members, of Habimah immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1928.  The actors decided the theatre would be managed as an egalitarian entity. It became a collective in which all members were equal owners and managers. The first play performed in Eretz Israel was "The Treasure", which premiered on November 29, 1928. The Habimah National Theatre building was opened in 1945 and continues to house the theatre to this day.

The theatre performed translated versions of international plays as well as original Hebrew works, the first of which was "Guards" by Ever Hadani in 1937. In the 1950's Habimah began to produce plays by rising Israeli authors and playwrights such as Moshe Shamir, Aharon Megged and Ephraim Kishon.

"Most Cruel the King", the first play written by Nisim Aloni for Habimah, in collaboration with artist Yosel Bergner who created the scenery, premiered in 1953. Aloni greatly influenced Habimah and since then the Theatre has performed six more of his plays.

In 1958, a decade after the State of Israel was established, Habimah was declared by the government to be the National Theatre of Israel and it was granted the Israel Prize for Theatre that same year.

The collective was disbanded in 1969. It was replaced by a board of, trustees, who appointed a general manager and an artistic director. In the 1970's the Theatre continued to stage original works by playwrights Hillel Mittelpunkt, Yehoshua Sobol and Ephraim Kishon.

The play " WinterFuneraf', written and directed by Hanoch Levin, was performed in 1978 and since then Habimah has staged six other Levin plays. Habimah performed both Jewish plays and international dramas and in the 1990's, artistic director Ilan Ronen established the Habimah Young Company. Since 2000 a wide range of classic, modern, Israeli and Jewish plays as well as musicals have been performed on the Habimah stage.

From 1918 to the present, Habimah has staged 706 different plays. "Les Miserables" was the theatre's 700th production.

In 2012, the remodeled Habimah Theatre building was inaugurated after four and a half years of renovation, during which time Habimah productions were performed in alternate venues.

The Habimah National Theatre Centennial marks Habimah not only as Israel's national theatre, but also its place as the first Hebrew theatre, in which hundreds of actors and creators have taken part over the last century. Habimah is a leader in all aspects of its work: play writing, direction, acting, music and design.

In its 100th year, Habimah represents the multicultural weave of Israeli society, expressing its characteristic diversity, complexity and conflicts.

Odelia Friedman
General Manager, Habimah National Theatre

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Habimah National Theatre Centennial