Tell me a story
Now in its 22nd year, the Kesem Shel Agada Festival works its magic to amaze and amuse its young audiences.
'The Land of Socks' Photo: Kfir Bolotin
Kids and their parents are in for a treat when the Yaron Yerushalmi Kesem Shel
Agada (Legend Magic) Festival gets underway for the 22nd year.
incorporates a multitude of genres, from dance and puppet theater to object
theater and Jewish music concerts.
The festival, which takes place August
13-15 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv, caters to pre-schoolers up to
Keeping any cultural event going for more than two
decades is quite an achievement, especially when you consider the changes that
have occurred in entertainment items aimed at the younger generation and the
increasingly sophisticated products children are exposed to these
The festival’s artistic director Michal Mor Haim admits it can be
quite a challenge to keep up with market developments but says she is encouraged
by the turnout she regularly gets. “Because we have been going for so long, we
now get parents coming with their kids years after they themselves had come to
the shows as youngsters.
The shows we present these days require a lot
more investment and effort and use all sorts of media and angles. Today, it’s
more difficult to hold the attention of small children for an
Abundant exposure to some of today’s gloves-off media has also
shifted the festival’s age group parameters. “A while back, kids aged 10, 11 or
12 used to go to children’s shows, but now you have to take 10-years-olds to
adult productions by Habimah because children’s shows no longer appeal to them,”
says Mor Haim. “So today, most children’s shows are aimed at kids up to the age
of seven or eight because after that age, it’s much harder to keep them
Still, the Kesem Shel Agada lineup features lots of
honest-to-goodness shows for children, such as theatrical renditions of works
based on Leah Goldberg’s Where Is Pluto?; the Russian folk tale Petrushka with
music by Stravinsky; A Story of Five Balloons by Miriam Ruth; and a dance
theater production of Rukdina’s Heart Flower. There will also be a contribution
from the Jerusalem-based Train Theater, which will put on its object theater
reading of Corduroy, written by American children’s author and illustrator Don
Children’s theater companies are evidently pulling out all the
stops to keep their young audiences enthralled by employing a variety of
physical augmentation and visual enhancements. The Adam Theater’s contribution
to Kesem Shel Agada, for example, has three productions for toddlers that
include an actress, puppets, music and all kinds of accessories.
it is very important to introduce children to relatively simple things like
puppets,” observes Mor Haim. “There is always a strong temptation for parents to
take their children to big productions, which are more attractive. So I’m happy
we have puppets in our festival.”
Kesem Shel Agada is also designed to
keep some of the slots low key and offer young children a more immediate theatrical experience. “The Train Theater show will be held in
a studio rather than in a big hall,” explains Mor Haim. “That allows the
children to be much closer to the stage activity and enables them to get a
stronger sense of the development of the storyline.”
Mor Haim sees
nothing wrong with spicing up children’s shows a little. “When we read bedtime
stories to our own children, we sing to them and make all kinds of sounds of the
characters,” she points out. “That’s fun.” The rendition of the tale by Miriam
Ruth will culminate in some tangible evidence of the storyline.
end of the story, the storyteller inflates a red balloon and, with the children,
she releases it into the sky. That’s charming, and I think children today still
have the ability to fantasize and to imagine things.”
The festival also
does its best to introduce Israeli children to foreign cultures. The Melody
(Ha’nigun) by the Goshen Theater, for instance, incorporates Jewish musical
material from all over the world, while Hans Christian Andersen’s The
Nightingale evokes the mysteries of far-off China to convey the beauty of
nature. “The show has live music, which I think is also an important element in
a child’s education, to see how music is actually made and not just by putting
on a CD,” says Mor Haim.
The artistic director is also a fan of exposing
children to as many kinds of artistic stimuli as possible.
“I think that
if we present them with all the art forms on a stage, when they grow up they are
more likely to be curious about other things, things they have not yet
encountered, and that has to be a good thing for everyone.”
also be plenty to keep kids and parents happily engaged outside the Suzanne
Dellal Centre building, with art workshops and activity areas that will operate
daily from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and free street shows at 5:30
p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“I don’t think anyone will be bored at the
festival,” smiles Mor Haim. “I expect everyone to go home tired and
For tickets and more information about the Kesem Shel Agada
Festival: (03) 510-5656, www.suzannedellal.org.il and www.ticketnet.co.il.