The success of the Vilner Trupe (Vilna Troupe) in interwar Poland lay not only in its maximalist, modernist, and Yiddishist pronouncements but also in its oft-conflicted practices. After all, the troupe traveled regularly to reach its audiences—the Yiddish-speaking masses and their main financial and artistic supporters. It never received state funding, unlike its Hebraist rival Habima in the Soviet Union. It changed staging styles with new directors: whereas some strove to Europeanize the Yiddish stage (which meant different things to different directors and playwrights), others sought to turn it into an avant-garde, highbrow theater with a "Jewish soul" (even as they made use of middlebrow Yiddish texts and Yiddish translations of European literature). Many thought of theater in terms of a "national institution," in line with the Polish romantic tradition. In short, the troupe constantly found itself caught up in debates about the aesthetic and cultural-national character of a "better" Yiddish theater


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pp. 98-135
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