Who Can Speak For Me? Israeli Theater Assays the Palestinian Conflict, Acting As a Moral Conscience

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We multiply our suffering by hurting each other. Athol Fugard

At first, Noreth Yari seemed intent on retreating to prove that the theater scene in Israel was not ashamed of self-reflection, self-criticism, and perhaps even self-tyranny, based on the plays she had chosen to include in Israa Drama 2007.

Surprisingly, half of the plays performed at the November-December show in Tel Aviv were political drama aimed at killing Israeli-Palestinian relations in ways that often reflected less interesting images of Israel’s official policies and the attitudes of many of its citizens. Yari is a theater professor at Tel Aviv University and artistic director of ISRAMA, sponsored by the Israeli Drama Institute and designed to encourage the production and interest of scientists in the work of Israeli dramas.

Despite its relative youth as a modern nation, celebrating its 60th anniversary on May 8, Israel enjoys a vibrant theater scene, with the highest per capita attendance in the world. According to Jad Kinar, another professor of theater at the university and head of the International Theater Institute branch, “The data is rather spectacular: on any given evening one can watch in Tel Aviv alone, with a population of over 350,000, at least 40 theatrical performances in major theaters as well as on the sidelines and festivals. ”

Some may argue that this phenomenon makes up for lost time. “The origin of drama in pagan myth, its growth within Greek culture and its development within Christianity have ensured the hostility of the Jewish religious authorities to theatrical manifestations throughout the ages,” wrote Glenda Abramson, a former Oxford University scholar.

In fact, Kinar points out that this historical hatred took a new turn when many modern Israeli theaters began pushing the boundaries, beginning with Hans 1970’s “Bath Queen”, which “dared to question the moral position of power. Israeli society is drunk after the victory of the Six-Day War (1967), a “production that triggered” mass demonstrations. “The theater also reached the Israeli National Parliament, the Knesset. In 1986, the Israeli

“The censorship board has decided to ban the start of Shmuel Hasfari, the last secular Jew, a cynical cabaret that depicts the appalling vision of Israel as an autocratic Jewish theocracy,” Kaynar says. A public cry led the Knesset to abolish theatrical censorship. In 1988, Kainar reported that playwright Joshua Sobol was accused of “destroying self-hatred and destroying national and religious morality, following the violent interruption by right-wing zealots in the premiere of the Jerusalem Syndrome in 1988, which compares the destruction of the Second Temple and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. . ”

It is clear that the contemporary Israeli theater is a national moral conscience, although this fact is unknown elsewhere. So it was very logical for Yaari to reveal 63 theater practitioners
21 states with a strong dose of drama that, according to Kinar, is “an existential ritual
the value. ”

These works were produced not only by low-budget margin theaters. Among the creators were the two largest Israeli theaters, the Habima National Theater, the Tel Aviv Municipal Theater, the Cameri, large corporations with great government support, large audiences and strong charitable support. Since an Israeli drama has been funded by the State Department, the unveiling of these undated images of life in Israel today has also received official approval.

The first reaction of many present was that it was commendable that Israeli theaters were afraid to address the more explosive political issue that divides their country today. Some visiting theatrical professionals, including Americans, quietly regretted the lack of similar courage in their countries. Theaters.

However, there was also little self-congratulation on this demonstration.

Desiring to prove themselves free and open in a proud democratic society, the organizers of this event could not conceal the fact that these provocative acts still represent only one side. Regardless of their generous intentions, what bothers them is not just the paradox that Israeli theater artists are trying to act as trumpets for the Palestinian people. Palestinian theater artists are largely unable or unwilling to speak for themselves.

There was a brief moment in time when things were different.

In 1989, during the first Palestinian intifada, Israeli director Eran Baniel envisioned what is believed to be the only official Palestinian-Israeli production ever to happen: an amendment to Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet. Baniel, who served as director of the Acre Festival in Acre, Israel, and became the artistic director of the Khan Theater in Jerusalem, spent the next few years achieving this fruit.

Pinell collaborated with George Ibrahim, director general of the Palestinian Kasbah Theater in Ramallah. Montage was played by Palestinian and Israeli Arab actors hired by the Kasbah and directed by Fouad Awad, and the Capulet by Israeli actors under Beniel’s supervision, and the joint scenes were directed by each.

Production was first shown in Jerusalem in 1994, almost a year after the signing of the Oslo Accords (the first direct face-to-face agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which affirmed the former’s right to exist and the latter 39; the right to self-government).

“This was the strongest experience of my life in theater and it was something that could only be understood now,” says Banyal.

“The initial thought was to set the play during the days of the British Mandate – the period when everything started to go wrong. But after analyzing the parallels that can be drawn – who will represent the British? Will their role as creators of the Jewish state? Must be interpreted as positive or negative? How can One answered the question, “Who started the shooting?” – The Palestinians rejected this idea, and finally a decision was made to stay as close to our “realities” as possible: the show began and ended as the two companies presented their common interpretation of the classic theater, leaving the audience to lay down what Rehearsals were a reflection of the situation: ever since Hebron in 1994 (in which Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinian worshipers), the ensuing terrorist acts, repeated closures of checkpoints, and continued opposition to the production of extremists from both sides had a direct daily impact on the work. Rabin. ”

Today, after more failed peace talks, the second intifada, and the construction of the physical wall of separation, there is a near-breaking gap between the two drama communities, and any Palestinian theater artist contemplating crossing the line threatens to be cooperative and targeted by militants among his people. Twelve years after Romeo and Juliet, according to Pannel, her Palestinian designer fled Gaza for fear of retaliation against Hamas, and the Kasbah Theater no longer shows a picture of this production in his public exhibition.

The closest to an authentic Palestinian voice taking the stage in Israel today is “Spitting the Distance”, a play by Taher Najib, a Palestinian actor, performed by Ophira Heneg, an Israeli Jewish director, and shared with Israeli drama co-operatives. This spectacular political drama, given by Natour’s successor, an Israeli-Arab member of the Kame Theater Theater Company (which played Romeo in the above-mentioned production), gave the performance of the abolition tour. A committed Palestinian actor who lives in Ramallah and is floundering in the oppressive atmosphere there.

It is the character of every man who immediately seems so loved that we begin to laugh with him on the paradoxes of daily humiliations he undergoes under Israeli occupation – and share the joy when a holiday trip makes him a free man in Paris. There he also finds romance and urges him to stay by the woman he loved, but in choosing between a foreign Eden and a hell at home, he prefers the latter.

He knows that he will fly from Paris to Tel Aviv on the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack. Instead of giving in to the fear and hatred of this absurd attitude, he decides to make himself as clear as possible and to be proud of who he is. Miraculously, he was not spared from the exhausting interrogations and searches and detentions he routinely experienced during previous flights.

The title of the article appears in the early moments of the play when the protagonist comes out with an exciting serological debate about how Palestinian men spit in Ramallah, when they spit, how they spit, and where they spit. Why spit, of course, is a very real core theme of this play, and becomes a scary metaphor.

In Spitting Distance has kept a distant distance from the Israel Theater Foundation – an independent production by the Rukab Project – due to concerns that this association may not only be used publicly as a fictitious remedy for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, but may endanger author Najib and other associated Arabs. This has necessarily limited his exposure to a few notable performances in neutral locations within Israel, while receiving considerable interest from overseas bidders (including the Barbican Center in London, where he appeared on May 7 -17, 2008). But in the Israeli stages today, this is the only play he wrote from a Palestinian perspective.

Two productions of the Israeli drama, The Winter in Qalandiya and Blonter, created by mixed groups of Israeli, Arab and Jewish actors, provide an additional insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even if they cannot be considered indigenous Palestinians. Although most Israeli Arab citizens are from the pre-Israel population of Palestine, today they are culturally different from the Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

Most speak fluent Hebrew and work among Jews in what has become a prosperous Western-style nation with a high standard of living. They also enjoy freedom of expression, the press and active political representation in the Knesset. It can be said that the lives of Arab citizens of Israel have caused them some discomfort and perhaps some discrimination. But they will certainly not face the deprivation of Palestinians and their residents living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Whether Israeli Arabs have the right to talk about people in Ramallah or Khan Younis or to trust them to speak on their behalf – more passionately or honestly than those Jewish artists who have addressed their cause – is questionable.

The winter in Qalandiya was presented by the Arab-Jewish Theater in Jaffa, which consists of a Jewish theater company and an Arab-Israeli theater company committed to building bridges together through multicultural productions. It is located in a stone building – an Ottoman square of the 500-year-old Ottoman Empire – on a portico overlooking the sea in this ancient part of what is now Tel Aviv. Directed by Nola Shelton from Lea Nergad’s book, Winter in Qalandia is noteworthy because he tries to replicate some of the observed behavior of Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint.

It is somewhat unilateral in portraying women as wrong, insensitive, and sometimes even brutal, while Palestinians are always portrayed as innocent victims. This is a young group of artists, and the company issues a serious statement, but it is a statement of social rather than aesthetic interest.

Another notable example of the political work created by a joint Arab Jewish group is the Plummer Camere Theater, which means “entanglement,” a play aimed at demonstrating the relevance of Palestinian history and fate. And the Israeli people, for better and for worse. Blonter begins with a misleading, funny and pathetic attempt by a liberal Israeli housewife who decides to invite dinner to her Arab colleague and his wife. Every goodwill comment hurts her guests, and explains how shocking her ignorance (she refers to them as Palestinians and Muslims when they are Israeli Arabs and Christians), and ultimately, reveals that her motivation has more to do with the modern way he has left-leaning Israelis like her to pretend they are. They are not racists of any sincere desire to befriend these people.

According to Yael Ronen’s directives, the following 18 scenes written by the ensemble reveal the fears of Palestinians and Jews and how they motivate them to act silly by both. An Israeli bus racer advises that she fears that another passenger, an Arab, may be a suicide bomber. The driver reluctantly deplores the Arab passenger, who is being insulted, that he raises his shirt to prove that he is not bound by explosives. Angry at this humiliating request, the rider drops his pants, then offers to demolish his panties as well.

In another scene, the Israeli government is extending the “separation wall” in the middle of the home of one Arab family, separating the living areas from their bathroom and asking them to treat them through a checkpoint to move between the two halves of their apartment. .

Children play a prominent role in this play as murdered victims of both a Palestinian family and an Israeli settler family, whose stories are central to this story. In one of the most frightening scenes, a group of Palestinian youths in the play pretend to form their own terrorist cell and show how they will blow themselves up as suicide “martyrs” – with all the innocence and joy and abandoning one you might expect to see in a hiding game.

Theater patrons who arrive to see the winner are placed through a “checkpoint” staffed by uniformed soldiers, asking for identity papers, expelling these people without questioning and questioning others.

Stylistically, the play highlights Jewish and Arab actors who mix their races on stage and performances in Hebrew and Arabic, confirming the lives and fate of the “entwined” peoples. The play avoids easy invitations for Arabs or Jews to dine in this tangle. Many of the festival’s pioneers thought the play was harsher on Palestinians than Palestinians, but Noam Semel, director-general of Cameri, claims that Blonter managed to offend evenly the Arab and Jewish audiences who attended it.

If there was safety in numbers, the theaters of Habima and Cameri’s decision to join forces in a rare joint production of the controversial Hebron play was a calculated risk. This work, by the Israeli poet Tamir Greenberg, is an attempt to express the futility of the killings committed by Palestinians and Palestinians in the historic West Bank city of Hebron, which both respect as a place to bury the patriarch Ibrahim. The director Oded Kotler formed the play in an uncomfortable mix of realism and fiction, using story-like elements to depict some of the ugly events and unfortunate facts.

The Israeli leader, who lives with his Orthodox Jewish family in Hebron and is in charge of the administration of the city, suffers from the tragedy of his young child who was shot to death in his arms.The bullet was directed at him, the military commander, not the child. A series of round-trip revenge killings between Palestinians and Jews leads to mass bloodshed, and the “mother of the earth” vomits the bodies both sides try to bury because of their revulsion at desecration.

There is a somewhat hopeful note in the end when a young daughter of the Israeli leader and a young son of the main Palestinian family in the play leave Hebron together to find a place where their children can live without bombs or death. If Hebron seems radical and it – its themes emerge from the sincere ostracism of its creators in the endless cycle of violence that dominates their world, the serious play tries to show that both Palestinians and terrorists are guilty of perpetuating that cycle. In violation of God, nature, history and earth.

A cynical treatment of the subject is offered at the scene of the battle for Khan. Like the Hebrew-Arab Theater in Jaffa, Jerusalem is housed in an old stone building from the Turkish era, converted from a stable to a factory and now into a full-fledged theater with historical arches blocking some of the theater’s scenes. “Fighting for the Homeland” is a piece created by the band, though it is also attributed to Ilan Hatsur, an Israeli writer who enjoyed the Masked play about three Palestinian brothers with a successful viewing at the DR2 Theater in New York City last year. The play was determined in 2012, when Israel is fighting another war – this time against Iran.

Israeli government officials are mercilessly ridiculed about this piece, which has the harsh qualities that one discovers in hastily executed drawings on Saturday Night Live, while power brokers install a fish merchant to be their prime minister while Israeli generals sing and dance a choir. Line.

Although political work has clearly taken center stage in Israa drama, Yari stressed that participants can also witness the scope of contemporary Israeli drama on a subject that goes beyond the Palestinian cause. Two works of Hank Levine are included: Beckett-like Beckett, based on three Chekhov stories, which has been playing for many years in the repertoire of Kami and the Levin Theater before his death in 1999; and Yakish & Poupché, a dark comedy about unsightly newlyweds Who are able to complete their marriage, presented by the theater of the Russian immigrant Gesher in Jaffa.

The opening night of the festival was marked by another work by Israel’s best drama, Shmuel Hasvari: Master of the House, depicting the couple’s cognitive dissonance five years after their child died in a suicide attack. Hasfari’s play does not put its policy on its sleeve, but the couple’s inability to participate in the same place alludes peacefully to the larger issue of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.

A series of scenes were shown by several writers at a marginal, multi-stage venue in Tel Aviv, Tamuna Theater, and conversations with theatrical entrepreneurs, critics and playwrights accompanied by a large number of archival video selections. Attendees at IsraelDrama watched works on Hiroshima, Israel’s troubling diplomatic invasion of Uganda in the 1970s, the culture of women attending the Jewish liturgical bath, a solo piece of a woman struggling to free herself from being sexually abused as a child, and more.

Athol Vogard once said of his life as a playwright in the apartheid regime in South Africa: “There was great dissatisfaction that the white man had a tenderness to talk about blacks, but I did not talk about anyone.!” Focusing exclusively on the Palestinian situation, the abundance and diversity of stories exploring the relationship between the two conflicting cultures underscores the commitment of the theater community in Israel to giving their voice to the other side. When they know they can’t really speak for them.

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