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A feminine touch
By LAUREN IZSO
21/02/2013
The 16th annual Woman Festival celebrates women, while giving them a stage for a female point of view.
 
‘We’ve got drag queens, divas, cross-dressers. This year’s theme is women to the extreme,” says Sigal Weisbein Rosman, the artistic director of Woman Festival 2013.

The faint sound of a baby crying can be heard in the background as Rosman talks to the The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview about the festival, which takes place February 27 – March 2 in Holon.

Entitled “Women Go All the Way,” this year’s festival will include a variety of multimedia attractions, such as performances, workshops, discussions, movies and design installations. The theme of feminism and social equality will connect each event, and through these topics Rosman hopes audiences will enter into a dialogue about gender issues.

With a larger variety of performances than last year, this year’s festival will include two Greek plays and one from The Netherlands, as well as various Israeli performances.

This year, for the first time, there will be a one-man-show. Although the festival has had drag queen performances in the past, this is the first year they will allow a male to perform as himself. The reason is that he will also be playing his mother. The play, entitled Absalom, explores Noam Meiri’s relationship with the “overbearing, religious, Zionist” woman, who represents his own mother, says Meiri, the author and star of the show. The script touches on issues of homosexuality as Meiri relives his experiences of coming out of the closet to his mother. He says the show is about “a son who decides to tell his mother everything she never wanted to ask.”

Absalom will be performed on February 27, the opening night of the festival, which coincidentally is also Meiri’s mother’s 88th birthday. “My mother will never see the play. I don’t think she would be able to take it,” says Meiri. “She is a happy woman, and I want her to stay that way.”

There is also much anticipation about a performance by Fatoumata Diwarra, which takes place on March 1. Originally from Mali and currently living in Paris, Diwarra has a unique style of music that combines African rhythm with touches of contemporary, charismatic jazz. Diwarra recently organized a group called Voices United for Mali. She and the other Malian artists taking part in the project recorded a song for peace in light of recent terrorist attacks in Mali.

Other festival highlights include a screening of the award-winning Israeli film Alice, written and directed by Dana Goldberg. The film, which follows a woman working nights at a rehabilitation boarding school for girls, will be screened on February 28.

There will also be a drag queen concert, as well as a wide range of theater and art performances throughout the week of celebrating women. Also, in addition to the Greek theater portion of the festival, there will be a Greek tavern theme, and chef Aviv Moshe will offer guests a tapas menu during the entire festival.

The annual festival, now in its 16th year, celebrates women, while “giving them a stage for a female point of view,” Rosman explains. She first became involved with the festival in 2001, performing in her own one-woman-show.

Rosman says she always knew “there was a lot to do and a lot to say” when it came to women’s rights, so she continued to contribute to the event every year. After being the producer of the Woman Festival 2006, she moved to The Netherlands, where she had been living for the past six years. Now she is back in Israel and has an infant son, Avner. But she doesn’t seem too worried about juggling motherhood and the demanding job of managing the festival.

Rosman, who is a single mother, says, “Women have to juggle things all the time. Many women have done it before me. We are always on the edge, stretching our balance, force and energy, trying to be everywhere and everything.”

Drag queens, divas and crossdressers may be the epitome of “extreme” to Rosman, but it is possible that she herself represents a different, more modern extreme; caring for a newborn while running a festival that will be attended by some 15,000 people.

“What is the message?” she says. “Be strong.”

All performances and events for Woman Festival 2013 will take place February 27 – March 2 at the Holon Theater for the Performing Arts at 11 Kugel Blvd. For further information, visit www.hth.co.il.3



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