Playwright-director Hanoch Levin, a major voice in Israeli theatre, died Aug. 18 of cancer, the New York Times reported. He was 56.
Mr. Levin was influenced by theatre of the absurd and had written non- politically-specific works, but also wrote compellingly topical plays, including Murder (1997), which the Times said explored the Palestinian-Israeli violence that erupted after Israel opened an archaeological tunnel near Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The Times said the play blamed all sides for the violence and earned Mr. Levin Israel's top theatre prizes.
Mr. Levin had 34 works (of some 50 written) produced in his career, including You, Me and the Next War (1968), a controversial play that concerned the 1967 Six-Day War and the unaddressed issues of Israel's taking of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and other Palestinian territories. The play was a harbinger of future strife in the region.
Not afraid of controversy, Mr. Levin wrote The Queen of the Bathtub (1970), which mocked prime minister Golda Meir and her colleagues. The play was greeted by nightly protests and government criticism and was shut down by the management. In a protest of the censure, Mr. Levin became a reclusive writer. Among his plays, some produced internationally, are The Patriot, The Adventures of Solomon Grip, Hefetz and Jacoby and Leidentahl.
The New York Times reported that even in his Tel Aviv hospital room, he was working on Whiners, a new work about terminally ill patients in a hospital.