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Aloni, Nissim

ALONI, NISSIM

ALONI, NISSIM (1926–1998), Israeli writer and playwright. Aloni, who was born in Tel Aviv, served in the War of Independence, and studied in Jerusalem and Paris. In 1963 he established Te'atron ha-Onot ("The Theater of the Seasons"), serving as director and artistic manager. His first play, Akhzar mi-Kol ha-Melekh ("The King Is Cruelest of All," staged 1953) published in Ha-Masakh, 3 (1954), focuses upon the personality of Rehoboam, the king who revolted against Jeroboam in the name of freedom and justice, but who adopted his rival's evil ways upon assuming the monarchy. In Bigdei ha-Melekh ha-Ḥadashim ("The King's New Clothes," staged 1961) and Ha-Nesikhah ha-Amerikait ("The American Princess," staged 1963; Engl., 1980), the influence of the Theater of the Absurd is evident. In his plays Aloni constructed a highly original world. Its basic components are drawn from the earliest elements of the European theater: myth, mask, costume, stock characters, etc. Aloni eschewed any blatant philosophical or emotional expression that might have been conceived in a situation existing outside the clear-cut boundaries of theatrical action. His play is to be judged by the author's ability to marshal these various theatrical components to express this imagined universe. He employed various means, such as the tape recorder or the cinema, to emphasize the clear and unique connection of his characters with imaginary reality. Other plays by Aloni include "Eddy King" (French, 1985), "The Bride and the Butterfly Hunter," "Napoleon, Dead or Alive," "Aunt Lisa," and "The Gypsies of Jaffa." Similar thematic elements also appeared in the few stories which Aloni published. Their main subject is a "reconstruction" of the world of childhood as a world of imagination, which may have been created either in the imagination of the child protagonist or of the adult narrator. Aloni's published works include the prose collection Ha-Yanshuf (1957, 1996). "Liheyot Ofeh" appeared in English translation as "To Be a Baker," in S.Y. Penueli and A. Ukhmani (eds.), Hebrew Short Stories. Aloni was awarded the Israel Prize for theater in 1996.

bibliography:

Nathan, in: Keshet (Summer 1966), 5–39. add. bibliography: G. Shaked, Ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit, 5 (1998), 133–38; Ch. Shoham, in: L. Ben-Zvi (ed.), Theater in Israel (1996), 119–32; E. Rozik, in: L. Ben-Zvi (ed.), Theater in Israel (1996), 133–50.

[Matti Megged]

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