The Gypsies of Jaffa

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Poetic Drama

Text in::he

In the 1971 documentary film on the making of the Gypsies of Jaffa, Nissim Aloni describes being interviewed by a French Canadian TV channel, in French. He goes on to tell how he answered all questions in fluent French, up until the question: Monsieur Aloni, what is the story of your play? –Here, he says, my French ran out.

During the years of the 2nd World War, in the camps, a Gypsy woman called Zara and a Jewish man called Tomas promised each other that if they both survive, and one of them will have a son and the other a daughter, that son will marry the daughter.

Years later, in Jaffa, Tomas is running a nightclub in which Madam Zara is starring as a fortune-teller.

He has a son, whose name is Smool, and she has a daughter – Marioula, who refuses to fulfill her Mother’s vow. Smool, determined to keep the old vow, becomes a murderer. He already killed two of Marioula’s intended bridegrooms, because he believes, fanatically, that she must be his wife. Now she is about to get married again, and the nightclub is buzzing with the news that Smool escaped from prison. He arrives in Jaffa, disguised in a bear’s hide, accompanied by his friend the gypsy Bogo, a small, devious crook. Now all hell breaks loose.

The nightclub’s people – all of them refugees, immigrants from other countries who found themselves in the Middle East – are involved in the bitter war between ancient command and compromise. Who shall win? Who will be the murderer? Who will be murdered? What is real and what is make-believe?

The characters

Female:4 Male:7 Total:11



1971 Habimah National Theatre director: Nissim Aloni

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