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The eye-catching Habima Theatre is situated in Habima Square, a popular meeting place in central Tel Aviv. It is more than a century ago that the curtains opened for the theater group’s first stage show in Russia, making this theater a cultural icon for the Jewish international community.
“Habima” is Hebrew for “The Stage.” The first Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv opened in 1945, but the building underwent a complete makeover when it was renovated in 2012. Stand in the center of its namesake square and gaze up at the contemporary edifice that catches your eye with its white façade and glass panes. Reflecting the bright Mediterranean sun, this dazzling building certainly boosts Tel Aviv’s nickname of “The White City.”
The original Habima theater group was formed in Moscow, just over a century ago. Oppressed in their country, many of its Jewish actors decided to stay in the U.S. and in the Middle East when they were on their first world tour in the 1920s. The Tel Aviv arm of the Russian theater was a studio that first operated under the supervision of the Moscow Art Theatre, but soon grew out to become the National Theatre of Israel. To get a deeper understanding of its history, you can delve into the on-site archives.
For a local cultural experience, book tickets for a live show performed by outstanding local and international talents. Four separate auditoriums cater for all types of productions, from concerts and dance shows, to classic musicals and plays. Cafés and restaurants in the theater itself and in the square mean you can easily make it an evening out, enjoying a drink and meal before or after the show.
Note that performances are generally in Hebrew only, with only the occasional show translated to English as well. However, the theater also hosts Israel Philharmonic Orchestra concerts, and their music speaks to everyone.
Habima Square is situated at the most northerly point of Rothschild Boulevard. Underground parking beneath the square is available for a fee. The theater is also easily reached on foot or by bus. The National Theatre’s archives are open for limited viewing on selected days only, so check ahead before you visit.
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