During World War II, multiple Yiddish theaters functioned in the Warsaw Ghetto. Even more remarkably, those involved in them were deeply concerned, despite everything, with maintaining high artistic standards. Michael Steinlauf writes:
The single most controversial issue in prewar Yiddish theater discourse was the subject of shund, referring to so-called trash, theater that was judged to be “mere entertainment,” and poor entertainment at that, filled with singing and dancing, badly acted and frequently vulgar. This was contrasted with the productions of “serious” or “dramatic” or “artistic” theater. . . .
What’s extraordinary when looking at theater in the Warsaw Ghetto is not just the continuity of this distinction but its intensification. While in the prewar years there was already an ethical component to this distinction, in the ghetto it became central. . . . A “better” theater was better because, first, amidst the radical immorality of daily life in a world built on obliviousness to the suffering and death of others, this theater recalled its audience to humanity.