Black Rain: The Apocalyptic Aesthetic and the Spectator’s Ethical Challenge in (Israeli) Theater


The present article will examine this constant tension between the dangerously seductive power of the apocalyptic aesthetic, on the one hand, and the inherently ethical intent of apocalyptic art, on the other. At the heart of the discussion stand the following two questions: How does the audience advance from a predominantly aesthetic view of the “apocalyptic sublime” to the establishment of an ethical or political stance? And can the two categories, the aesthetic and the ethical-political, coexist? To answer these questions, I will use as my paradigmatic example the play Black Rain, written by Shimon Buzaglo and originally staged by the Herzliya Ensemble (under the direction of Ophira Hoenig) in June 2007 as part of the Israel Festival. Emmanuel Levinas’s theory of the ethical will provide the central theoretical background.