Our Playwright Reflects on the Recent Israeli Elections

A letter sent to the Boged company from playwright/adapter Boaz Gaon…  It picks up on themes laid out in last Sunday’s feature in The Washington Post, looking forward to the January 22 Israeli elections.  Who knew what the results would bring?

Boaz Gaon (standing) with Nir Erez (photo by Stan Barouh)

Boaz Gaon (standing) with Nir Erez (photo by Stan Barouh)

Now Boaz looks back on the week that was, and on a production that remains extraordinarily close to all our hearts.

Lovely Bogeds,
 
I am writing these words to inform you that the reality that you’ve been portraying – a promising society which has been going to hell, until “one Summer” a new generation emerged, “young and true”, which decided to demand a “better life”, all the while spurring political and financial forces which swore to crush it, but could not “in the end”, since “they won” – all this has been our reality, in this past week.
 
Our of 120 members of the convening Israeli Parliament, 47 are new. I.e have never served as politicians and are taking the place of – read kicked out – tens of politicians who grew to think of their leather chairs as extensions of their bodies. That connection has been severed.
 
Of those 47, around 35 represent younger and progressive forces which either believed in the Israeli Spring or actually led it. Most of them are young women (Stav Shafir from Labour, Tamar Zandberg from Meretz, Michal Biran from Labour,and others) and we’ve never had a more feminist Knesset, which believes not only in the right for a better a life – but also in the obligation to communicate that message in a way that will “actually inspire”.
 
And why is all this exhilarating? because these elections, to everyone except those of us who were aware of the anger, aware of the unrest, aware of the incredible amounts of energy and idealism, from below, which bubbled under the noses of the always ironic pundits – these elections were called off. Portrayed as “lost” and “unimportant”, an easy win for the current government and ultra Conservative forces, within Israel, for whom democracy, and equal opportunity, and freedoms of many sorts, are dangerous shots of poison.
 
This proved not to be the case.  Our case has proved to be the case.
 
Our anger, the anger that you’ve been portraying, has been turned into positive political change and the audience – the Israeli audience that is, of the politics that is our theater – did realize in the and that it is their call to make, whether to shake things up, make some noise, or not. And they did.
 
What is happening in our little town, is still happening in yours right now – at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts. What Nir and I wrote about, and which did stun Israeli audiences (as one kind reviewer put it, one of many as you will read after the end of this run) is now stunning, angering, motivating and inspiring American audiences. (Yes, I’ve been reading Ryan’s reports…)
 
Most of all, you are trying to do there, what we’ve managed to do here – which is to leave the audience with a bundle of responsibility on their laps, as they try to walk away. It will slow down their exit, for sure. They will walk away with the caution of the uncertain and the aching sorrow of those who realize that “there will be no one to save them”. No Tommy Doany will come flying down and relieve them of their responsibilities. No. If they want relief, then they will have to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
 
We did.
 
After leaving you all, I spent a calm weekend in New York where one morning, as if in a scene written by that satiric playwright whom we all love and cherish (God), I stumbled upon a second-hand copy of Ibsen’s “letters and speeches”. It cost one dollar. Ah, they forget so quickly.
 
Upon completion of Enemy of the People, in 1882, Henrik had the following words to offer to his friend Frederik Hegel:
“Dear Hegel,
I have the pleasure of sending you here-with the remainder of the manuscript of my new play. I have enjoyed writing this play, and I feel quite lost and lonely now that it is out of my hands. Dr. Stockmann and I got on so very well together; we agree on so much many subjects. But the doctor is more muddled-headed than I am; and moreover has has other peculiarities that permit him to say things which would not be taken so well if I myself said them. I think you will agree with me when you have read the manuscript”.
 
Thank you for permitting me to say things that needed to be said. And for helping audiences gloss over my many peculiarities.
 
Love you all…
 
And here’s for a killer last week, true, and strong and angry,
 
-Boaz