Israel Festival 2011 – Premieres in the Ulpan

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Yossi Tal-Gan, General Director of the Israel Festival, with Moshe Kepten, Artistic Director/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Israeli artists from different disciplines were invited to create new works for the Israel Festival’s “Premieres in the Ulpan” project. The festival, celebrating its 50th year, will take place from May 23 – June 18, 2011, with performances in several Jerusalem venues. These Israeli premieres will be held primarily in the new studio – the space that was formerly the Telad television production studio (ulpan also means studio in Hebrew) – a huge black box at the back of the Jerusalem Theatre – a setting that can easily be adapted to suit different productions and invites experimentation.

A presentation in the studio offered a fleeting and tantalizing glimpse of these works in progress. Even seeing a few moments of each work made it clear that the artists involved have chosen to use the platform offered by the festival as an opportunity to take risks and try out different forms. For the viewer, this is an opportunity to encounter the work of new directors and choreographers, and to discover new aspects of familiar artists.

The works to be presented include:

Maof Hayona – The Flight of the Dove, by the Ruth Kanner Theatre Group. In this work, Kanner has adapted two stories by Yuval Shimon, from his book of the same name. Presenting the work, Kanner said, “He is a relatively unknown writer and I feel a sense of mission to bring his wonderful text to the stage.” The two stories will be performed together on the same stage, alternating in a manner that reflects the book – in which two stories are printed on facing pages. Taking place in Paris, one narrative involves a tourist couple who has just arrived in the city, the other revolves around a woman alone.

Lady Twisted - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Lady Twisted, by Jason Danino Holt explores the fine line between life and art. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Holt said, “It portrays artists who try to take their art to the limit, and the price they pay.

Cabbage Child - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Cabbage Child, directed by Noa Knoller and performed by Maabadatarbut Dimona (the name translates as Dimona Culture Lab) is inspired by the book by Yonatan Geffen. A play for adults that looks at the world of children, it will be accompanied by live music. Knoller said, “We have been working for three years in Dimona, looking for challenges. We set out on a journey without knowing our destination; this is the privilege we have in Dimona.”

Oedipus 2011 - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Oedipus 2011, by Yagil Eliraz and Ido Aharoni is a work that combines opera and theatre to tell the classical story of Oedipus. In presenting the work, Eliraz said that the music (composed by Aharoni) “does not accompany the play, but rather functions as a catalyst for the action.” Prof. Nurit Yaari is the dramaturgist for the adaptation, which Eliraz described as “theatre distanced from realism.” One of the intriguing aspects of this performance is that the lead roles are doubled –each represented by an actor and a singer, who will be onstage together. Oedipus will be performed by Iftach Ofir and Jocaste by Anat Atzmon, with singers from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Anat Grigorio - Ship of Fools - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Ship of Fools, by Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor is a dance work that refers to the allegory of passengers on a ship without a pilot, people who have been set adrift by society, considered fools or madmen. Three characters, performed by Uri Shafir, Anat Grigorio, and Sascha Engel, each very different from one another, existing together in the same space – yet apart. Dancer Anat Grigorio offered an intriguing view of one of these complex characters.

Idit Herman paints it black - Hamitzpeh - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Hamitzpeh by Clipa Theatre. Idit Herman, co-founder and artistic director of Clipa Theatre presented the work in her inimitable manner, preferring to show rather than tell, talking while she constructed her set. Clipa has created several site specific performances for the Israel Festival since 1998; the upcoming performance will play on what can and cannot be seen by the audience in the black space of the studio. The performers will lead the audience through the space as it transforms, controlling what is seen in this visual, musical journey through a world of dreams.

Hadas Kaleron - The Twin Sisters - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

The Twin Sisters is an adaptation of a story by Yiddish poet Avrom Sutzkever, as performed by Hadas Kalderon (the poet’s granddaughter) and violinist Jennie Honigen. Theatre, music and video-art combine to tell the story of twin sisters, Hodesl, a talented violinist who was killed in a concentration camp, and Grunia, who survived the war and tells the story to a poet who loved Hodesl. The entire studio will become the café where the story takes place, with the audience seated around small tables.

Gila Almagor/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Standing in the Wind – acclaimed actress Gila Almagor will sing in a special evening of songs composed by Ohad Hitman and Yoav Ginai.

La - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

La, by Nimrod Fried and Israel Breit, is an encounter between dance and music. “Music is abstract,” said Breit, “it enables us to experience our humanity without words.” A short sequence from the work performed by Itzik Gabai and Hila Rosner, revealed the intensity of the search for one’s voice, along with the humorous moments as the dancer seeking his “voice” encountered the perfection of the opera singer.

My Father is Not a Bird - studio presentation/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

My Father is Not a Bird, written by Shahar Pinkas, and directed by Shir Goldberg, is adapted from Cinnamon Shops by Bruno Schultz. The costumes function as both clothing and set in this colorful, lively portrayal of a boy growing up in Poland between the wars, living in an apartment crowded with an assortment of characters and a father who is going crazy.

A complete schedule is available on the Israel Festival website in English.