Dr. Lee Perlman
Chair, Isra-Drama 2016 Artistic Committee
On behalf of the Artistic Committee, I am delighted to welcome you to Isra-Drama: Spotlight on Israeli Drama 2016.
Isra-Drama will provide you, both the first timer and the return participant, with an intensive encounter with interesting and bold Israeli plays, performance works and their artists. Isra-Drama will enable you, in essence, to experience both the on- and off-stage drama of Israeli theatre.
This year's program is composed of 13 full length performances. Many of them, including Worst Case Scenario, Practice Makes Perfect and Tectonia, consciously attempt to offer challenging theatrical languages. Many of the works grapple with myths of Israeli society and explore pockets of collective memory: why, what and how we choose to remember and reflect back on ourselves to ourselves. Some are firmly grounded in the biblical context, like Jehu and The King David Report and many are situated along the continuum of pre-State (including the Holocaust), 1948 and leading up to contemporary Israel, like Good Tidings, Perlstein, Ritza (Running), The Admission, On The Grill and Nephilim (Giants).
The three Symposia will be interactive thematic sessions on The Multi-Cultural Textures in Israeli Society, Disability as a Creative Force and A Return to Classics. In all three Symposia, scenes from a number of plays will be presented and discussed, along with the artists. Our famed Play-Date will provide you an opportunity to meet informally and network with Israeli playwrights and theatre artists.
For the artistic committee, creating the Isra-Drama program evoked many questions. While considering the plays themselves and that many of these works will be experienced by you with accompanying subtitles, one question resonated: what will be lost and found in translation? This question is exemplified in two ostensibly prosaic examples - the translations of two of the works you will see. The original Israeli musical Billy Schwartz translates seemingly straightforwardly as “Billy Schwartz.” The title of David Grossman’s book, which has been adapted for the stage, which can be translated literally as “A Woman Flees from Tidings,” is in fact, translated from Hebrew as To The End Of The Land.
Beyond what the artists have lost and found, and hopefully, you will “find in translation” in experiencing all these works, these plays and their productions play an important role in reminding Israeli audiences that they can’t flee from the tidings of Israel’s complex and oft-painful historical memories, contentious contemporary events and their ramifications.
Israeli theatre artists and institutions are acutely discovering that they can’t flee from a number of off-stage dramas, amid the tidings of recent national cultural policy directives. These are challenging and often dividing artists, theatre companies and various constituencies, raising ‘real-time’ dilemmas for the artists with regard to their civic, national and artistic responsibilities and ideological sensibilities. They are being compelled to make far reaching decisions regarding, for example, the geographical and political boundaries within which they will create and where they will perform their work.
Isra-Drama is both a festival and a market place, that is a rich and edifying artistic experience and at the same time, a practical vehicle to create more connections and collaborations between and among you and the many local theatre artists whom you’ll meet and whose creative work you will experience. Enjoy and join the drama.
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