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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 31Poland and Hungary: Jewish Realities Compared$
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François Guesnet, Howard Lupovitch, and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764715

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764715.001.0001

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Cabaret Nation

Cabaret Nation

The Jewish Foundations of Kabaret Literacki, 1920–1939

(p.273) Cabaret Nation
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 31

Beth Holmgren

Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes the Jewish foundations of kabaret literacki (literary cabaret), a specific form of cabaret consisting of comedy sketches, monologues, and songs with satirical social and political content. Kabaret literacki was a revolutionary phenomenon in terms of Polish culture, Jewish culture, and notions of Polish national identity. It flourished mainly in Warsaw between the world wars — that is, in the capital of a newly independent nation that was also a great Jewish metropolis with a third of its residents identifying themselves as Jews or 'of Jewish background'. This is not to claim that Warsaw held a monopoly on innovative, high-quality cabaret in Poland. The lively city of Lwów, long a centre for Polish theatre, offered stiff competition in the form of cabarets. Nor did Warsaw's kabaret literacki attract the many Varsovian Jews who resisted Polish acculturation for religious and/or political reasons. The most innovative Yiddish-language kleynkunst theatre, Ararat, was in Łódź, where its director, the poet Moyshe Broderson, provided songs and sketches, and the famous Yiddish comedy team of Shimen Dzigan and Yisrael Shumacher, a voluble chatterbox paired with a phlegmatic straight man, performed.

Keywords:   kabaret literacki, literary cabaret, Polish culture, Jewish culture, Polish national identity, Poland, Polish theatre, Varsovian Jews, kleynkunst theatre

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