Part 4: Final Wrap on Israeli Fringe – International Exposure (2 of 2)

Spotlight on Fringe Drama
Monday, 03/12/07, 10:00-12:30, Tmuna Theatre

The point of departure of these plays is that theatre is a laboratory in which to experience the search for a different encounter between the stage and the audience. The playwrights whose plays will be presented in this framework are divided into two: some are young, presenting their first works, which bear the mark of investigating and experiencing the construction of existing or virtual worlds; others are older and more experienced and raise fundamental questions about the essence of the dramatic material, the thin line between illusion and reality/realities, and the direct encounter between actors and audience. While the subject matter of these plays has engaged drama since time immemorial, the observation, thinking and reaction are new. The plays are all typified by the observing-critical eye vis-à-vis the society that serves as its landscape and homeland, and the writing hand that renders personal experiences into a spectrum of dramatic and theatrical expression through language, sound effects, movement and stage picture.

The program will include excerpts from the following plays:

The System by Nava Zuckerman
In The System, her twentieth work with the Tmuna Ensemble and her second at the Tmuna Theatre, Nava Zuckerman continues the direct connection between theatre and movement and together with the cast she has created a work comprising multiple nuances of various performing arts. The writing of the play was preceded by workshops for the actors, focusing on developing their personal stage language. The play tells the story of Adam Reicher, who conceived the System. Reicher and his staff know what’s best for us, they know how to turn each and every one of us into a successful brand and prepare us for life in the New Age. They assemble a group of people who are all poised at a crossroads in their lives. Under Reicher’s charismatic leadership, they plan to create a new future founded on the System’s principles. The play takes us to a different place very close at hand and poses incisive questions about society crumbling around us, a society in which every individual aspires to belong to the collective, while at the same time striving to be unique.

Nava Zuckerman is an interdisciplinary artistic creator. Born in 1948, she studied literature and theatre at Tel Aviv University, and movement at Hakibbutzim College of Education.
In 1981 she founded the Tmuna Theatre to accommodate workshops for artistic creators in theatre, movement, music, painting and writing. The aim of the workshops was to develop the participants’ personal expression and creative skills by means of a single language – body language.
Her first play, Tmu-Na, which leans on the body language developed in these workshops as well as on the personal worlds of the participants, was performed at the 1982 Acco Festival. Since 1982 Tmuna Theatre has been active on two parallel yet inseparable levels: workshops for actors with the aim of developing a personal stage language, and producing original plays that are the products of these workshops. The plays are performed both at home and abroad.
Between 1995 and 1999 Tmuna Theatre was affiliated with the Holon Theatre, and expanded its activities into the community sphere as well, producing children’s plays and street theatre, and holding special workshops for battered women, recovering drug abusers, new immigrants, people with Down syndrome and so forth.

In October 1999 Tmuna Theatre’s new home was inaugurated in Tel Aviv, and also functions as a multidisciplinary cultural center, hosting works in the various arts: theatre, movement, music, plastic arts, poetry/literature, and interdisciplinary works. Nava Zuckerman holds workshops at Tmuna Theatre in Tel Aviv, the School of Visual Theatre in Jerusalem, the Mitzpe Ramon School for the Arts, the Baltimore School for the Arts, the University of Tennessee, Tel Aviv University, the Jerusalem Academy of Dance, various theatres in Lublin, Lodz, Poznan and Madrid, and the International Workshop Festival in London.

Theatre Works:
Tmu-na, premiered at the 1982 Acco Festival.
Coffee Please, premiered at Beit Lessin Theatre in 1984.
5 Screams, premiered at the 1985 Israel Festival, and was performed in Israel, Edinburgh Festival (1986), Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Produced in the framework of the Center for Experimental Theatre, a joint project of the Tel Aviv Foundation for Literature and Art, the Israel Discount Bank and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. As The Piano Plays, a play for children, premiered at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in 1989, with performances in Israel, the University of Tennessee (Knoxville Theatre Festival) and Baltimore (Theatre Project). It’s Not a Movie, premiered at the 1990 Israel Festival, with performances in Israel, Knoxville Theatre Festival, Philadelphia (MIT) and Baltimore (Theatre Project). Shelter, premiered at the 1991 Edinburgh Festival, with performances in Israel, Baltimore, and the Alternative Theatre Festival in Madrid. The play won The Scotsman’s ‘Fringe First’ Prize. At Eva’s, commissioned by The Columbia Festival of the Arts (USA), premiered at the festival in June 1992, with performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1992 (nominated for The Independent’s prize), Atlanta (March 1993), London (April 1993), and at the Glasgow Festival (May 1993).
Gown, a monodrama performed by Sarah Cohen, premiered and won first prize at the 1994 Teatronetto Festival, with more than 150 performances in Israel and at The Columbia Festival of the Arts (USA).
Don’t Leave Me On My Own, premiered at the 1994 Haifa International Children’s Theatre Festival and won first prize for lighting design, with performances all over Israel. Waiting for Cassandra, a monodrama performed by British actress Antonia Smith, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with performances at the BAC Theatre in London. Transit Hotel, commissioned for the 1995 Manchester Festival, inspired by the terrorist occupation of the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv in 1975, with performances in Manchester, Belfast (May Festival), BAC Theatre in London, Glasgow, the Holon Theatre and various theatres around Israel. Dead Hours, the story of two prison inmates, one Israeli and the other Irish, premiered at the 1996 Acco Festival, with more than 150 performances in Israel, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Dublin Festival, the BAC Theatre in London, and the 1998 Singapore Festival. The Hammer, the story of a Jerusalemite metal artist, performed by two actors and a musician, premiered at the Holon Theatre in 1997, with performances in the Holon Theatre.
Birthday Party, a play for children, premiered at the Holon Theatre in 1997, with more than 100 performances in Holon and all over Israel.
The Alfredo Family, a street performance with residents of the Jesse Cohen neighborhood in Holon, performed in twice-weekly installments over several months in the neighborhood streets, produced in collaboration with the Lazarus Community Center. Deadline, inspired by Euripides’ Medea, performed by Sarah Cohen and musician Meir Banai, premiered at the 1998 Duo-Artist Festival, with performances in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Holon Theatre.
Judy Darling, premiered at Tmuna Theatre in October 2000.

A Fish in the Tummy by Lilach Dekel-Avneri
Based on three stories by Efrat Danon, A Fish in the Tummy is a journey through an apathetic and alienated world in which the protagonist, a young author suffering from writer’s block, traverses the time continuum during the seven-day mourning period for her mother and challenges sacred conventions regarding mothers and daughters.

Lilach Dekel-Avneri is a director. She graduated with honors from the Department of Theatre Arts at Tel Aviv University and holds a master’s degree. For the past year she has been serving as dramaturge and artistic consultant at Tmuna Theatre, and is currently rehearsing Shakespeare’s Macbeth. She directed Phaedra’s Love by Sarah Kane, and A Fish in the Tummy at Tmuna Theatre. In 2004 she adapted and directed Ovadia the Cripple after S.Y. Agnon for the Interdisciplinary Arena in Jerusalem, and initiated and served as artistic director of the student theatre festival, SMALLstage at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Theatre Arts. She wrote and directed Tristan and Isolde in Warsaw. Other produced plays by Lilach Dekel-Avneri include Flames Under Rooftops (published in New Voices in Israeli Drama) and Man Dwells Within Himself. She translated Cleansed and Blasted by Sarah Kane, and After the End by Dennis Clay, which were presented as part of ‘Friday Readings’ at the Cameri Theatre, and God is a D.J. for the Goethe Institute.

Efrat Danon was born in 1976. She graduated from the Camera Obscura School of Art, and holds a BA in literature and philosophy from Tel Aviv University. She is the author of A Fish in the Tummy, published by SAF and Sifriya Hadasha Publishing, which won the 2005 President’s Prize for a First Novel.

Get a Life by Nitzan Cohen
A man prepares for an intimate evening with the great love of his life. A couple, his best friends, arrive unannounced and refuse to leave. A beggar breaks in, threatening to upset what little order remains by exposing the lie lurking beneath the surface. A peephole into a fateful evening in the life of a man who has chosen to isolate himself from the world and create a separate reality.
Get a Life travels along the line bordering the absurd and examines the desire to attain absolute control over events and shape reality. The characters search for a foothold, try to escape direct human relationships, find themselves enslaved to their own narrative and behaviors, navigating in a world of service providers and consumers, a world of clear hierarchies.
Incapable of contending with reality, the protagonist sequesters himself in his home and creates a new reality for himself – in which he dictates the narrative, invents friends and love, and totally controls every aspect of his life – a fictional reality that completely meets his every need and desire.
The most fateful day of his life, an intimate encounter with his ‘beloved’, turns into an unplanned social event with his ‘best friends’ and deteriorates into a sequence of surreal and unexpected coincidences that threaten to shake the very ground beneath his feet.

Get a Life is the product of collaboration between playwright and director Nitzan Cohen and actors Dvir Bandak and Irit Natan-Bandak. Their previous production Man, Woman, Words (winner of the Sternfeld Prize for Writing and Directing) premiered at the 1999 Acco Festival and has been regularly performed to great critical and audience acclaim.

Nitzan Cohen is a playwright and director. He studied screenwriting at the Open University and at the Idit Shechori School of Screenwriting in Tel Aviv. From 2004 to 2006 he served as a member of the artistic committee at Tmuna Theatre. In 2006 he taught acting at the Tuvya Gelber Acting Studio in Kfar Sava, and dramatic writing at Search Engine, a contemporary center for acting training in Jaffa, and since 2006 he has been serving as lector and script editor for the Israel Film Fund.

Theatre Works
Man, Woman, Words, (1999) writing and directing, Acco Festival, Sternfeld Prize for Writing and Directing, 1999.
Korczak, (2001), writing, period drama for youth, Nava Hafakot Theatre, participated in the Janusz Korczak Festival in Warsaw, 2002.
Betrothal Prayer, (2003), writing and participating in a community project in Holon’s Jesse Cohen neighborhood, workshop for playwriting from Talmud sources, studying texts and theatre. At the conclusion of the workshop the play was performed at Tzavta Theatre.
Breakwater, (2004), writing, a social drama for youth, The National Youth Theatre.
Get a Life, writing and directing, Tmuna Theatre, 2005 Playwright of the Year.
Wordplay, (2005), writing, a social drama about violence and racism in adolescents, The National Youth Theatre.
Roots, (2007), writing, a social play for youth, The National Youth Theatre.

Disintegration 1994 by Dudu Ben-Zeev
Disintegration 1994 is a tragicomic stage adaptation of Dudu Ben-Zeev’s experiences with his son Itai. In the play Dudu Ben-Zeev portrays several characters (including the dog, the psychiatrist, his wife, and the midwife) that are an externalization of mental states, and partially based on actual events.
As it unfolds along a time continuum, describing thirteen years in the life of a father to an autistic child, the play marks significant way stations on the journey toward being the father of a child with special needs; a journey that begins with denial and ends with acceptance and coming to terms with the child, with fatherhood and the different reality in which he lives.
The bicycle in the background serves as a metaphor for freedom and the father’s physical and mental journeys.

Dudu Ben-Zeev is an actor, director and playwright. Born in 1964, he graduated from the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts and the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio. Over the past twenty years he has acted in films, at the Habima National Theatre, the Cameri Theatre, and Notzar Theatre. He has developed a unique movement-theatre language and created the play Demon, for which he won the ‘Incubator’ Prize at the 1990 Acco Festival. Dudu Ben-Zeev is also a qualified teacher of the Feldenkrais Method.

Mother’s Weddings by Yossi Yizraeli
A play within a play. A celebrated actress, now a fading star, meets a young playwright who has written a role for her that should restore her former glory. His play is based on her autobiography, or more precisely – what her autobiography would have been if not for the ‘disappearance’ of her baby son. Since his childhood the playwright adopted the actress as an imaginary mother, believing that he is her long-lost abandoned son.
The action takes place in the actress’s room during a work meeting between the two.

The Characters
The Actress
The Young Playwright

Yossi Yizraeli is a playwright, director, poet and teacher. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and the University of Bristol, and holds a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. He served as artistic director of the Habima National Theatre (1975-1977) and the Jerusalem Khan Theatre (1984-1987). He is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University and lectures at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem. He has directed numerous plays in repertory theatres in Israel, Germany and the USA.
He has adapted and directed plays from the works of S.Y. Agnon: The Bridal Canopy, A Simple Story and Yesteryear at the Habima National Theatre, and Tehilla at the Jerusalem Khan Theatre. He has adapted the letters of Rabbi Nachman of Braslev: Seven Beggars at the Jerusalem Khan Theatre, and There is Nothing so Whole as a Broken Heart at the Heidelberg Municipal Theatre and the Berlin Festival. He has published six volumes of poetry and won numerous prizes for his plays, including the Ibsen Medal from his hometown in Norway.

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