From Gad Kaynar, artistic director of IsraDrama Festival Tel Aviv 2011; also Chair of the Theatre Arts Department, Tel Aviv University; Officer of The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit; General Secretary – Israel Centre of the International Theatre Institute (I.T.I.); Chairman – General Union of Writers in Israel. December 7, 2011, in dining room of The Hotel Cinema, Tel Aviv
Dear friends and colleagues,
Welcome to the 7th Isra-Drama Festival, a feast of some of the samples of the best vintage which the prolific Israeli drama has to offer, plays that represent a theatre loving, conflict-ridden, multi-cultural, pluralistic and truly democratic society. The courageous Israeli, Jewish and Arab drama, holds the mirror up to the convoluted nature of Israeli society, and the fact that the mirror stays intact, unbroken, is a tribute to the local artists and audiences, as well as to the Israeli culture supporting agencies, and this must be said although we usually love to turn them into our daily punching bags.
Since this year’s festival addresses the large and heterogeneous community of theatre persons, who speak or understand English, the lingua franca of our “small global village”, we have here no less than distinguished representatives of 15 countries from all over the world – general managers, artistic directors, stage directors, dramaturges, dramatic agents and media people. They will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the Humanist and universal facets of our dramatic art that encompasses a considerable variety of types and genres, alongside with its unique, local assets. And since most of the presented plays will be encountered in productions mounted by various Israeli mainstream and fringe theatres, you shall, I hope, also have the possibility to relish the high niveau and broad stylistic spectrum of the local stage art.
The program of the 2011 Isra-Drama Festival intends to represent the flourishing Israeli drama in a nutshell of 11 performed plays, and others presented in symposia and encounters between the guests of the Isra-Drama and Israeli playwrights and theatre people. The festival forms a microcosm of Israeli society, its problems and aspirations, its tragic and its comic moments: From the relentlessly haunting traumas of Holocaust and repetitive wars, through the plight of Israelis with a diasporic mentality and packed suitcases of eternal immigrants, on the one hand, and of Palestinians, on the other, to moral topics of corruption in high places and of a politically dubious yet humanely justifiable past, leading up to poetic, apparently fantastic plays, tinged with humor, that focus on the aspiration to transcend the unbearable reality of a serious illness or material squalor, and soar upwards, to psychological and spiritual freedom. These ideals are also embodied in works that point a warning finger at phenomena of social injustice, a hot topic in view of the rising social protest movement here and abroad, and at the threats lurking everywhere for basic civil rights, for unreserved freedom of speech, artistic and media activity, as well as for the dignity of human beings, especially of women.
An increasing number of first rate Israeli plays have already been successfully produced on stages around the world, and we see no reason why this number would not increase, communicate with audiences everywhere on the globe and make you proud of your wise reportorial choices. To paraphrase Aristotle – when the local is presented particularly enough, it becomes universal. I wish you all happy scouting, exciting experiences and fruitful encounters, and I wish us Israelis to meet you in the premieres of one of the Israeli plays at your theatre, wherever it may be.