IsraDrama Write-Ups, Part 2: Spotlight on Political Theater

Friday, 30/11/07, 11:45-13:00, The Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa 

Longing, A Cultural Collage by Igal Ezraty

A group of Jewish and Arab artists, new immigrants and veteran Israelis, native and foreign-born Israelis, on a journey into memory. The stories of the grandfather who was expelled from the Arab village of Bir’am, of the mother who emigrated from Cairo and dreams of returning to be buried there, of the daughter who returns to Berlin, and of the uncle who has chosen to remain on his ancestors’ land as a hired hand, are intertwined with the story of two artists from Uzbekistan who are seeking their artistic path in Israel and raising their child, who already feels at ease with the culture of their new country. They all encounter a character who goes by the name of Telenovella.

The play is performed on various stages around the audience that experiences different cultures, music, languages and the soothing effect of food. The play tries to examine the longing for childhood, parents and homeland.

Igal Ezraty is a director and manager of a local theatre company. Together with Adib Jashan and the El Serayah Theatre Company he founded the Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa. Longing won the Margalit Prize and the Israel Theatre Prize.


Pangs of the Messiah by Motti Lerner

Pangs of the Messiah describes events in the life of a family living in a community settlement in Samaria whose residents are members of the right-wing Gush Emunim movement. The events unfold against the backdrop of advanced peace negotiations between the Israeli and Jordanian governments, leading to fierce disagreement regarding the courses of action adopted by members of the community, which develop into a harsh conflict that not only splits the community, but the family as well. The mostly fictional plot is based on lessons learned from similar situations in the past – the Jewish settlements in Sebastia, the evacuation of Yamit, the emergence of Jewish terrorism and so forth and on examination of possible action scenarios facing the leaders of the settlers in Judea and Samaria.

Motti Lerner is a playwright and screenwriter for cinema and television. He grew up in Zichron Ya’akov and graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and drama schools in England and the US, where he specialized in street theatre. From 1978 to 1984 he served as dramaturge and director at the Jerusalem Khan Theatre. Since 1992 he has been writing screenplays for television and cinema. From 1993 to 1996 he served as dramaturge at the Beit Lessin Theatre. He teaches dramatic writing at the Kibbutzim College of Education, and dramatic writing for theatre and cinema at the Department of Theatre Arts at Tel Aviv University. His plays include: Kastner, Pangs of the Messiah, Paula, Pollard, Else (Exile in Jerusalem), The Witness, The Murder of Isaac, Hard Love, and Passing the Love of Women. His plays have been performed to great critical acclaim in Israel, the US, England, Germany, Austria and Australia. His screenplays for Israeli television include: Loves at Bitania, The Kastner Trial (winner of the Israel Motion Picture Academy Award, 1995), Bus Number 300, Egoz, and Battle in Jerusalem. He also wrote the screenplay for Silence of the Sirens (winner of the Israel Motion Picture Academy Award, 2003). In 1995 he won the Prime Minister’s Award for his creative work.


A Guide to the Good Life by Yael Ronen

“This is our story”, writes Yael Ronen. “We really did want to write about the good life. We wanted to ask and understand why despair has spread here like an epidemic if everything we’re doing is right? What are the roots of the sense of loss of direction that typifies our generation? The generation of endless journeys to every godforsaken spot on the globe in search of ourselves. Why is it that in Israel of 2004 political and social revolutions do not emerge from the campuses? Why is our sense of identity and belonging so divided and confused? In short, what is the cumulative significance of a generation born into and growing up in a reality of occupation?”


The Characters:

Oren, 21, a discharged soldier

Daniel Bar-Natan, 20, a dead soldier

Tami Bar-Natan, 23, his sister

Shai Zurim, 27, reporter in the Occupied Territories

Avi, 21, a discharged soldier

Uri, 21, a discharged soldier

Nurit, 30, a plastic artist

Yoav, her husband, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University

Reut, 30, Yoav’s colleague, a lecturer at the Gender Studies Department and a volunteer at MachsomWatch

Alona, 24, Reut’s younger sister, an art student

Ravit Steiglitz, a dental hygienist, a childhood friend of Nurit’s

Shon Shaked, 23

Yael Ronen is a playwright and director. Born in 1976, she graduated from the Thelma Yellin School of the Arts and The School of Theatre Arts at the Kibbutzim College of Education. She wrote and directed Picasso’s Wives, A Good Year for the Farmers in the North, and The Guide to the Good Life at the Beer Sheva Municipal Theatre, Plonter (Tangle) at the Cameri Theatre, and Bewitched at the Itim Ensemble. Plonter has been staged in numerous countries around the world and gained her international renown. She has recently directed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Cameri Theatre, and has been invited to direct in Germany.


Native Vine by Amnon Levy and Rami Danon

A captivating, moving and topical story. Shaul, an idealistic dreamer, tries to discover and restore the ancient native vine of the Second Temple period, whose unique wine was drunk throughout the ancient world. The vine became extinct during the Muslim conquest and now Shaul and Ramzi, his Arab friend and partner to his dream, stubbornly attempt to bring their vision to fruition atop a Negev mountain. In contrast, Shaul’s wife Tamar is trying to survive financially while she manages a restaurant and dreams of owning a rural B & B. But the idyll of coexistence is shattered by the act of an informer, revealing the harsh tensions underlying the relationships, and breaking up the group.

Amnon Levy is a journalist, television broadcaster, and playwright. He worked for ten years for the Hadashot newspaper, during which time he was a Knesset correspondent and covered the ministries of communication, absorption, energy and religious affairs. He served as a New York correspondent, a correspondent on ultra-Orthodox affairs, and a commentator, and wrote a satirical column for the weekend supplement. Concurrently with his work in the printed media he began presenting television programs focusing on social and political issues, such as ethnic discrimination, the ultra-Orthodox community, and violation of minority rights. He also published Haredim (1988), which is based on his experiences as a correspondent on ultra-Orthodox affairs, and which became a bestseller. He has co-authored four plays with Rami Danon: Sheindele, Midnight Prayer, Father’s Braid and Native Vine.

 Rami Danon is an actor, playwright and director. He began studying drama in the 1960s with Nola Chilton, and was one of the founders of the Jerusalem Khan Theatre in 1968. He studied at the Department of Theatre Arts at Tel Aviv University (1970-1973) and joined a group of young actors at the Haifa Theatre (1974). He has played numerous roles in repertory theatres. In 1986 he began writing and directing new Israeli plays: Rain by Gilad Evron at the Cameri Theatre, Twins, a stage adaptation of A Trumpet in the Wadi by Sami Michael, and Masked by Ilan Hazor, which won first prize at the Acco Festival and the prestigious Meskin Prize in 1990. He has written and directed dramas for television. He has directed four plays that he co-authored with Amnon Levy: Sheindele, Midnight Prayer, Father’s Braid and Native Vine. He won the Yosef Milo Prize for directing Father’s Braid.


Excerpts from Black Rain by Shimon Bouzaglo and Ofira Henig

Saturday, 01/12/07, 16:00, Herzliya Theatre Ensemble and The Haifa Municipal Theatre, at the Herzliya Theatre Pavilion

Dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 heralded the beginning of a new era in the history of mankind. For the first time in his history Man joined the council of Nature’s central forces, and became a whimsical, unbridled member, perhaps even more so than Nature’s forces themselves. The questions raised and the cynical means employed by various interested parties to perpetuate the memory of the horrors of this event or relegate it to oblivion, coupled with the power they exert to exploit people’s economic numbness and helplessness vis-à-vis that power, constitute the conceptual foundation for Black Rain. The play, which was written under the influence of poetic material and factual documents, exposes the stories of characters living in different places and planes of reality after the first bomb was dropped and before the next one explodes.

Director Ofira Henig on the subject matter of the play: “The Hiroshima story is an excuse for me to engage in ethical and human issues associated with the development of weapons of mass destruction. This play removes us from the circle of enlisted political dramas; there are no heroes or villains, no victim and conqueror, and no message for or against. We all stopped and listened. We listened to a horrific and horrifying past in order to understand a threatening present.”

Shimon Bouzaglo is a poet and translator. He has won awards for his poetry and translations. He was named Translator of the Year at the 2006 Theatre Prize Awards for his translation of Antigone, which was staged this year at the Habima National Theatre and the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. Black Rain, directed by Ofira Henig, world premiered at the 2007 Israel Festival (in collaboration with the Haifa Municipal Theatre and the Herzliya Theatre Ensemble).