The good news first – followed by no bad news. We’ve found the play we’re going to pursue – the most dynamic and urgently felt work we’ve seen so far. It’s called… Well, I’ll get to that in a second. But just to add this — that because the range of material and subject matter about Israel is necessarily so vast, my intention is to pick more than one representation of this Beguiling, Promising Land. So if you’re allergic to “the conflict” — or just plain sick of hearing of it,like most of the Israelis are, know that we’re onto you and that argument and we share a hunger to expand the discussion, just as everyday, my engagement with Israel is about many things, both essential, elemental and banal as well.
But to come back to what’s necessary; what’s uplifting because it’s so razor sharp and incisive and illuminating and plain fun: Well, very clearly, that’s the play called Plonter and it’s produced by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. It’s directed and co-written by 31 year old Yael Ronen, one of the sharpest new voices and talented young directors on the scene today. It was thrilling to see the play for a second time, just so I could be sure that the structure was as taut as I thought and that the 9 actor, 110 minute episodic tale of Arab and Israeli families bound and divided by the Wall and the intractable knot of conflict really could make an audience care about so many different members of different families.
What’s a “Plonter” you might ask? A Plonter is literally a tangled knot; a kind of a maze-like mess; an imbroglio; a situation or piece of rope having many knots. As in the sentence: “The fisherman made a Plonter while trying to untangle the many nets.”The play presents the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspectives of both sides, and depicts the pain, frustration, as well as the humor of contending with the insanity of life in our region. Plonter is about the insane, complex, painful, and absurd life on either side of the roadblocks and constitutes a “dialog under fire”. Part of the play is performed in Hebrew with simultaneous translation into Arabic, and part in Arabic with simultaneous translation into Hebrew. English supertitles will be available every night.The Cameri Theatre loved their experience traveling to DC this past March with their extraordinary production of HAMLET (which I saw this morning). That too made me cry, with joy and appreciation for a beautiful work of committed theatrical artistry — rough tough rugged athletic energetic poetic and a true servant of an, of course, brilliant text with a brilliant action line. A HAMLET to remember forever.PLONTER too will have Washington reeling, jazzed, moved and impressed. I am working to make this tour happen. And I am still loving this extraordinary trip, even as new issues back on the homefront at Theater J call out for attention.So attend I shall, and will report soon. But the word from Tel Aviv is an emphatically happy one. And Jerusalem wasn’t half bad either; the beautiful Khan Theater producing work that wasn’t entirely of my liking, but the city itself — the diad of the Old Arab Market and Yad Vashem providing deeply enthralling journeys; it sort of left me blown away, exhilarated and transported. Shall we leave it at that?It’ll be Hannukah here in another day. And then I’ll be boarding a plane home. Wishing everyone good health from far away.