Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentShalom Efrat
SubjectFiction-Reality Relations: Affinities between Urban-Scape
in Theatre and the Contemporaneous Surrounding
Space. Tel-Aviv as Case Study
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors ASSOCIATE PROF. Nurit Lissovsky
PROF. Nurit Yaari
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


This study examines the interaction between fiction and reality through the relations between every-day urban and theatre space. Urban reality contains endless tangible and intangible components, forming the space of daily practices and their meanings. Urban images are created inadvertently by city users or intentionally by professional producers. The theater also produces an urban image, accepted as fictional artistic representation. Theatrical images are interpreted by theatergoers in light of their acquaintance with city space, highlighting the central role of the audience in linking fiction and reality and in constructing urban meanings.

Using multidisciplinary interpretive approach, anchored in semiotic theory, the study sheds light on the mutual structuring of urban meanings arising from the theatrical and quotidian city image. Its analysis is based on an original conceptual model - TI-CI-M-m: the image of the city in theatrical fiction (TI); the common everyday image of the real city (CI); timeless mythologies (M); and local myths (m). CI and TI constitute polar points of reference. M is located between them, combining fiction and reality, ideas and ideology. Finally, in the context of the study, the myth reveals itself as both grand foundational narratives (M) and local ideologies (m).

The model is applied to case studies related to Tel-Aviv in the 1970s, a formative period in the history of Israel and the golden age of local theater. Three types of relations between the city’s daily and theatrical image are examined through the practice of one contemporary canonical creator, respectively: 1. relationship between urban myth and the changing urban image, and between them and the city's theatrical embodiment in three productions of Spotted Tiger by Yaakov Shabtai: in Haifa Theater (1974) and in Habima Theater, (Tel Aviv, 1985, 2006).

2. Demonstrating the exposure of urban myth structure by the theatrical image, thus challenging the urban image. Case studies: The Bride and the Butterfly Hunter (Bimot Theater, Tel Aviv, 1967; Beit Lessin Theater, Tel Aviv, 1980) and the Gypsies of Jaffa (1971 Habima Theatre, Tel Aviv) All by Nissim Aloni, designed by Yossl Bergner. 3. Discussing a situation where the urban and theatrical images interact directly, independently of intervening myth, either M or m. Here, physical characteristics of the city are explored as spatial archetypes. In their theatrical form, they act as metaphors for human relations mediated by space, and at the same time, interpret Tel Aviv’s specific urbanity. The analysis focuses on the image of Tel Aviv as a “city of balconies” and on urban archetypes as evoked in Hanoch Levin's work together with designer Ruth

The research shows how theater serves as a territory for constructing and deconstructing urban myths. Although it cannot demonstrate a direct impact of theatrical performances on urban reality, it sheds light on the theater as an active agent in forming the city’s identity. More generally, it is revealed as an effective methodological tool for observing the dynamic formation of urban meanings and symbols, and exploring the way urban space is perceived and comprehended in everyday life.