Being a young, aspiring playwright is difficult, no matter where you are in the world, but being a young, aspiring playwright in Israel poses its own unique set of challenges. We invite you to a candid, open discussion with a few of Israel’s most interesting and entrepreneurial young theatre creators, to hear about their strifes as well as their successes, and perhaps even share a few of yours.
Written, directed, and choreographed by Yoav Bartel and Abigail Rubin
Seven actors and dancers swim in a pool of hatred
Meir Ben Ami, the director of an acting studio, made two big mistakes. The first, when he banned his former student Avner Citin’s production. Citin’s goal is to fan the flames of hatred between him and his actors. His second mistake was to let Mr. Citin show a small segment of his production as an exercise. Before that, Ben Ami will have a short interview with the maker, in an acting studio format. But Mr. Ben Ami quickly finds himself a pawn in Citin’s game. Citin is determined to expose, humiliate, and hit Ben Ami where it hurts, so that he can finally get on the path to the truth.
Abigail Rubin is a choreographer and director, and holds a BA in dance from the SNDO at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Amsterdam. She studied dance at Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, and received the Israel Ministry of Culture Award for Young Choreographer in 2004. She has choreographed shows at Habima National Theatre and Haifa Theatre. Abigail teaches release technique, improvisation, composition, and stage presence, and heads the Dance Department at Bnei Dror High School.
Yoav Bartel is a writer, director, and actor. He graduated from the Drama Department at Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts. As an actor, he performed at Habima National Theatre in Street Cat and Taxi, and in the TV show Till the Wedding Comes. Yoav teaches improvisation and theatre, and is an artistic director and dramaturge.
Yoav and Abigail are a couple in life and work. Their collaboration since 2008 includes:
Humus, Chips, Salad – Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre, 2008; Shall We Dance – best show, best playwright, and best performer in the 2010 Fringe Awards; Two Chinese – Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre, 2010; Ambush – a site specific dance performance; Kasadea, Under the Skin, Yabalek – a trilogy of fears, which was awarded best show, best choreography, and best custom and set design at the Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre, 2015; Juduka – 2016; and Drop Dead, 2017.
Their performances have toured Israel as well as festivals in Munich, Kiel, Berlin, Poland, New York, London, Turkey, and the Czech Republic.
Booking: Abigail Rubin, Yoav Bartel
THE PLAYWRIGHTS PROJECT
The Playwrights Group, comprising four theatre creators – Noa Shechter, Shai Shabtai, Daniel Botzer, and Roey Maliach Reshef – constitutes a platform for promoting original contemporary theatre creation.
The Group’s activities include writing, dramaturgy, and production, supporting young creators, learning, and education. The model on which the Group is based is unique in the local landscape, and is characterized by collaboration with the community and audience. By means of an active Facebook page and a website, the Group shares the creating processes with their followers, from choosing the topics for writing the plays, through updates from rehearsals, to raising ideas and suggestions for the future. Once every two months the Group meets for a joint “white night” of intensive writing, four short plays inspired by a common topic drawn from the suggestions posted on its Facebook page by the community. Once the plays are completed, they are joined by four directors, 12-16 actors, and one lighting designer to produce a special, one-time theatre evening. The group was founded in 2015, and to date it has produced some fifty plays.
The Playwrights Group was formed in response to a need. Establishment theatre in Israel, known as “repertory theatre”, rarely promotes new, local, and original drama. Creators find it difficult to find a home for their work on which they labored hard and long. Although fringe theatre is growing and developing, it is not a satisfactory alternative for playwrights at the start of their career who want to expose their work to the general public and make writing their profession. Against this backdrop the Playwrights Group emerged, and the highlight of its activity is a unique theatre evening – The Playwrights Project. We write and create collaboratively, and enlist as many theatre creators as possible without any outside support.
Additional Playwrights Group Activities
The Playwrights Project is the main basis for The Playwrights Group’s work, and it sprouts and produces additional branches. Some of the short plays are adapted and become full-length productions, some of the texts are put together to become a play that continues beyond the Project itself. Four theatre productions, three in fringe theatre and one in repertory theatre, are the result of plays that were written for the Project. Extensive use is made of our texts, whether by schools in their theatre programs as material for matriculation exams, or for various dialogues. Some of the plays that emerged in the Project are in various stages of development to turn them into original productions. At the 2016 Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre we held “The Playwrights Table”, in which we jointly wrote one long play, Sand, which is currently being developed.
This year, for the first time, The Playwrights Group is holding The Playwrights Incubator, a framework for developing new original Israeli plays and for young creators to learn and receive dramaturgical support until their play is ready for the stage.
Booking: Roey Maliach-Reshef
I, ANGELINA JOLIE
Written and Directed by Mickey Yonas
What happens when you become a war refugee? You start walking. You walk in order to save your life. To date, sixty-five million people have abandoned their homes due to persecution, violence, and human rights violations.
We, the creators, use this production to shine a spotlight not on them, but on us. We would like to talk about a society that has lost its inner compass, that looks at the “other” not as a brother or as a human being trying to find refuge among us, but as an existential threat. We would like to shine a light into the dark recesses of prejudiced thoughts when it comes to the global crisis of refugees. On stage you will hear not them, but us. The texts are taken from real people talking on social media. The physical part of the performance aims to show the inner thoughts and doubts of each character.
Mickey Yonas is a graduate of the Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Israel, and holds a BA from the Theatre and Creative Writing Department at Tel Aviv University. She has created independent theatre productions and visual theatre performances in the fringe theatres of Tmu-na and Tzavta, the LGBT Center, Tel Aviv Museum, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (co-directing with Ido Bornstein for the International Israel Festival). Yonas has also created performances for Bialik Museum and Beit Ha’ir – The Center for Urban Culture, Tel Aviv. Some of her performances toured Europe. Currently she is working as an independent theatre creator.
Booking: Mickey Yonas
THE CONVERSATION PIECE
Tmu-Na Theatre Ensemble
A piece by Yair Vardi
Seven artists meet their audience in a salon turned laboratory in a search for national identity while creating it live on stage. It seeks to find the roots of individual identity and our simultaneous acceptance of and resistance to the nation state.
The Conversation Piece investigates how cultural identity is shaped, how it is influenced by national mechanisms, and how this informs our perceptions and our behaviors as civilians.
The Conversation Piece challenges conventional spectatorship by inviting the audience to take part in a performance that is written anew in each show with improvised conversations, which are conducted on stage with the audience. These are documented in real time by the performers throughout the show, and they are anchored in a structured framework of content, intensity, and tempo.
More about The Conversation Piece
The Conversation Piece, where the practice of “conversation” is examined as one that constitutes culture. Conversation itself, i.e., dialogue – as the conventional theatrical trope for the relay and dissemination of information – is extricated from its varied cultural connotations; as a tool for philosophical or psychological investigation, as a means of expression, and as an educational tool through which identity is both constructed and exposed. In this way, conversation is revealed as a tool with civil potential, as a medium for creating affinities, deconstructing prejudice and bridging ideological differences. It signifies the role that culture plays in the writing of history.
Yair Vardi is a curator, theatre-maker, dramaturge, performer, and lighting designer, currently living in Tel Aviv. He has a BA in Theatre and Choreography Practice from Dartington College of Arts, UK (2009) and an MA in Solo/Dance/Authorship (SODA) from the Berlin University of the Arts (Universität der Künste Berlin, 2009). In 2005, Yair initiated the A-Genre Festival at Tmu-na Theatre, a festival for interdisciplinary contemporary performance pieces. He has been the festival’s artistic director and curator since its inception. In 2012 he was put in charge of Tmu-na Theatre’s curations, theatre festivals, and special events, working alongside the theatre’s artistic director Nava Zukerman. In January 2017 Yair resigned from his position at Tmu-na Theatre and is now working as independent artist and curator.
Some of Yair’s past projects include The Conversation Piece (2016, Tmu-na Theatre Ensemble); dramaturgy for Practice Makes Perfect (2015); Singular Light, a video work for Loving Art Making Art (2015, Tel Aviv); dramaturgy for Skin (2014); You Never Look at Me from the Place I See You (2013, Berlin, Tel Aviv). As a lighting designer he has worked with various artists from all disciplines, on almost every stage in Israel, as well as in museums, galleries, public spaces, and concert halls.
Booking: Yair Vardi