Everyone is waiting – the bride in her white dress, family, friends. You can almost feel the silence in the room as the groom’s foot nervously hovers over the glass. Then – CRASH!!! Yes, it is the end of the world. A terrible explosion has destroyed humanity. Everyone that is, except the happy couple. There is hope for the future of humanity, these two can start a new world, there’s just one small problem: they’ve forgotten what is supposed to happen after the wedding.
This is the zany premise of ‘One and a Half’ a work in progress by Ish Theatre, a member of the first cohort of artists in residence at the Art Factory in Bat Yam. Founding members Fyodor Makarov, Noam Rubinstein and Yolana Zimmerman, will be joined by Harel Kartes for this performance, directed by Masha Nemirovsky. Like Fellini’s 8½, this performance comes between the group’s first work, ‘Odysseus Chaoticus’ created for the Clipa Aduma Festival in 2008, and their forthcoming production of ‘Faust’, which is planned for 2011. In the meantime, the talented troupe plans to destroy and save the world with a series of comic vignettes that combine physical theatre, music, clowning and mime in a performance that bends the word interdisciplinary into a fantastic creation, something that truly has to be seen to be believed.
Ish Theatre will hold an open rehearsal of ‘One and a Half’ at the launch of the Art Factory on Thursday, August 12. Beginning at 20:00, the public is invited to the group’s studio to see selections from the performance.
Art Factory on Nitzana Street in Bat Yam is a big bright yellow and blue converted school building, within walking distance of the Abarbanel Hospital. A visit to the studio for reveals a room full of the detritus of civilization, scattered within the four walls of a former classroom. A curtain stretched across the room creates a stage, Masha Nemirovsky sits at a small keyboard, accompanying the rehearsal with music and commentary. I take a seat on a thin mattress pushed up against the wall and watch as a turtle-like creature with a sea green boom box on its back (Yolana Zimmerman) crawls in on one side, meeting the gaze of another creature (Noam Rubinstein), inching into the room encased in a green Formica school desk, as the familiar melody sings in my mind: Where do I begin…
What happens with the entrance of a third creature (Fyodor Makarov), complete with a snazzy green drum for armor, is not quite G rated, but very natural, and hysterically funny. A dizzying mix of genres and styles in perfect mime and wicked parody swirls across the makeshift stage, accompanied by an array of props. A Barbie doll, kitchen towels, a guitar, rubber tube and the faded elegance of a discarded baby carriage all somehow find their way into the surreal scene.
“The stage will be full of trash,” Masha Nemirovsky told me as we sat down to talk after the rehearsal, “Did you see the footstool we used in Odysseus? Only Svetlana knows how to find something like that in the flea market. Finding these things is much more difficult than sewing a dress for the Queen of England. We found that baby carriage in the trash.”
Nemirovsky, winner of the Jerusalem Prize for Theatre in 2002, has a Masters Degree from the Academy of Music Theatre and Film from St. Petersburg and worked as a director of the St. Petersburg Theatre Bouffe before immigrating to Israel.
The current performance was created in part through improvising with the various found objects. Nemirovsky says that the group came to her with an idea – a lone couple remains after the world is destroyed. “I am trying to transfer that idea into something very concrete and specific. Which man and woman? When exactly did the explosion happen? Eventually we decided that it would be when he steps on the glass at the wedding.”
The show combines the narrative of the couple with images from the world that was lost. “Clowning is a very free genre,” says Nemirovsky, “we let ourselves present a picture of a world full of absurd and crazy things.” The group has been working on ‘One and a Half’ for 3 weeks now, although it is not complete, that doesn’t worry Nemirovsky: “When a work loses its freshness – that is very dangerous. We could have lots of rehearsals and have everything set, but then it would die.”
Improvisation is the essence of the group’s work. Yet at the same time, Nemirovsky says that “each sketch has a story and the actors work with absolute knowledge, they know where they are going.” She says that “clowning is the pinnacle of acting. They have no theatrical help to rely on [set, lights]. It’s very difficult because everything depends on their acting. They create a world out of their fantasy.”
The talented trio of Makarov, Rubinstein and Zimmerman, create a world that encompasses everything from the broadest humor to the most subtle nuance, utterly bizarre and totally human.
Open rehearsals will be on Thursday, August 12 at the Art Factory, 13 Nitzana Street in Bat Yam, the full production will be performed at the Tmuna Theatre on August 15 at 20:30.