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Moving into high gear this week, the Israel Festival is offering a busy - and interesting - schedule of free and token-priced events.
The prestigious festival would be unrecognizable without its traditionally packed Jazz Club in the Jerusalem Theater foyer, which gets started when the last of the evening's main performances winds down. The first in the free foyer series opens this Saturday night, when The Tevet Sela Quartet plays its African-influenced jazz starting at 10:30 p.m.
"Jazz Club" is actually a misnomer, since the foyer series now embraces a range of genres. Sunday night there will be a gypsy folk orchestra, with March Dondurma taking the spotlight at 10:45 p.m. The series then "takes five" until the following Saturday, June 3, when jazz returns with the Boris Gammer Sextet. The following night, Izabo plays Sixties-influenced Mediterranean rock, and on Monday selections from the American songbook are promised.
Meanwhile, outdoors at the Jerusalem Theater's expansive plaza, free performances are promised each evening beginning at 6 p.m. One highlight happens next Tuesday, when the Thailand Royal Ballet performs.
Israeli artisans will display their wares at an arts fair every festival evening. This week, the fair will be devoted to Indian works, from musical instruments, paintings and textiles to crystals, cooking instruments and shanti tents.
The cool Cafe Tav group returns with its wandering caf , which combines coffee, cake and multidisciplinary arts. Nightly at the plaza, visitors can order a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, have a back massage, get their portraits painted, take part in a yoga lesson or let someone read the coffee grounds in their cup.
Zirat Hafestival, an "arena" for the upcoming generation of artists, is a new project this year. Young independent artists from a range of disciplines have been given the opportunity to present their original works, with admission tickets for each double bill a modest NIS 30.
The list of Zirat Hafestival performances at the Jerusalem Theater, presented from May 29 to June 4, includes an interdisplinary work of original poetry, live music and video dance ("Love Soup"); a comedy with pantomime and clowns ("Velcro"); a piece mixing puppets and actors ("The Little Man"); a silent play ("Bleeding"); a sociopolitical satire ("Ayeka?"); a movement theater to works by two ever-popular Israeli poets, the late Yona Wallach and Yehuda Amihai ("Playing Around"); a cabaret for three women based on beauty magazines of the 1950s ("Be Beautiful") and a dance take on the Jean Genet one-act controversial classic about social class, The Maids.Two additional low-priced performances are "Singing in the Park," in which rockers Daniel Solomon and Pablo Rosenberg along with young opera singer Claire Meghnagi are backed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra this Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in Independence Park (NIS 20). On the last day of the festival, June 15, respected rockers Ehud Banai, Eviatar Banai, Meir Banai, Rami Fortis, Berry Sakharof and Micha Shitreet join forces at Sultan's Pool for "Old Friend, Have You Forgotten" for a contemporary spin on old Jewish songs.
Information and tickets at 1-700-70-20-55, or visit www.israel-festival.org.il.