Who’s Afraid of Shakespeare?
Shakespeare will be a central theme in this year’s festival, with three full productions from Israel and abroad presenting alternative approaches to well-known plays.
The Theatre of Music and Drama from Tbilisi, Georgia will perform a unique version of Macbeth. Directed by Davit Doiashvili, the company’s artistic director, this production makes wonderfully creative use of acrobatics, music, lights and video.
The OKT/Vilinius City Theatre from Lithuania will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Oskaras Koršunovas. Koršunovas comments on the theatre’s website: “When we say Midsummer Night’s Dream, we usually imagine a costume fairy-tale or hear Mendelssohn’s music at the Wedding Palace. In this performance we are trying to convey the phantasmagoric character of the play on stage. The audience will see a performance produced with minimal means. A board that makes up for both the set design and sumptuous costumes in the performance is a kind of oar leading to the spectator’s imagination. I find it important that as soon as the actors appear on stage, the spectators should not form any preconceived opinions, but just give vent to their imagination. The board behind which an actor is standing is not a shield, but a mirror reflecting the spectators’ stream of imagination. This performance is a continuous paradox reduced to a perimeter of four surfaces.”
Romeo and Juliet, is an Israeli production commissioned for the festival which will be performed at the Lab Theatre. It is based on a provocative arrangement of the play by Nuran David Calis, son of Jewish Armenian Turkish immigrants living in Germany. The production revives Shakespeare’s verse while interweaving elements of gangsta-rap and marginal cultures of the younger generation. The German production is currently playing at the Gorki Theatre in Berlin. Reinhard Wengierek writes in Die Welt: “In this adaptation of Shakespeare Nuran David Calis has succeeded in a fascinating feat that spectacularly strikes the nerve of time with precision.” The Israel Festival production will be performed by Israeli actors, with music by Asaf Amdursky.
The Shakespeare Festival will also host Shakespeare Jerusalem a Jerusalem based theatre company that performs Shakespeare in the original English. Founded by Shannon Kisch, this talented company brings the depth and beauty of Shakespeare’s language to new audiences. The company will perform Bite-sized Shakespeare: a collage of select scenes from Macbeth and Midsummer Night’s Dream (in English). Shakespeare Jerusalem has previously presented two theme-based collages: a musical evening on love, performed under the stars in the Botanic Garden, and most recently, a one-person show featuring Herzl Tobey and Shannon Kisch exploring the fool in Shakespeare. The scenes in English are interwoven with transitional scenes in Hebrew that describe the play, and enhance our knowledge of Shakespeare and his times in a lively, and often humorous manner. The performance will take place in the new festival club.
In the square outside the Jerusalem theatre there will be a Shakespeare celebration for the public with third year students of Beit Tzvi, directed by Ido Riklin. Dori Parnes, a wonderful translator of Shakespeare who has created a website devoted to the Bard’s works, translated, composed and arranged the music for the songs used in the program.
The festival has many theatrical offerings, both familiar and new.
Familie Flöz from Germany returns to the festival an international theatre group of actors, musicians, dancers, directors, and mask-makers, arrive in Israel with a new production: Hotel Paradiso. A moving and comic performance about strange happenings that take place in a venerable vacation hotel in the Alps, run by an old woman and her family. Healing waters, squabbling siblings, love, theft and a mysterious corpse are all part of this bizarre, wonderful performance.
The Gecko Theatre from Ipswich, England comes with The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol. Founded in 2001 by Israeli born Amit Lahav, Gecko has created a work that combines physical comedy with vivid images and music. Lahav worked with Lindsay Kemp, David Glass, Steven Berkoff and Ken Campbell, before founding Gecko with Al Nedjari in 2001. After the performance in Israel this production will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival.
Another unique theatre coming to the festival is the Finger Theatre, founded in Georgia in 1988 by Besso Kupreishvili. The name originated with Extravaganza– a performance which consists entirely of costumed fingers which became the theatre’s “visit card”. Finger Theatre is one of the first underground theatres in Georgia. The performance includes Georgian dance, classical ballet and cabaret pieces.
The Arab-Hebrew Theatre and Mirror Theatre present a new production of From Enemy to Lover inspired by S. Y. Agnon’s short story of the same name, adapted and directed by Gili Shanit. It is a spectacle of movement, text and visual expression.
The inimitable Zik group resists any traditional definitions. Well is known in the world of theatre, the group creates works of music, theatre, sculpture, film and pyrotechnics. Kokochu will be created for the festival by the members of the group in the pavilion of the Talpiyot industrial area. It is a sculptural event in which the static encounters the dynamic and relates to ecological issues.
“Beneath the Mountain,” a video dance festival will be shown at the School for Visual Theatre in the Talpiyot industrial area, and in the Musrara neighborhood the Photography School will host visual events and multidisciplinary performances that combine installation, theatre, photography, video, movement and sound, with multimedia artists guests of the Lab Theatre from Israel and abroad.
The Israel Festival will take place from May 25 – June 10.