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Gesher Theater marks 22 years of excellence in new season
By HELEN KAYE
04/01/2014
Theater presents an entirely new version of an iconic play as the flagship production of its 2014 season.
 
The ever questing Gesher Theater presents an entirely new version of an iconic play as the flagship production of its 2014 season. Performances start January 13.

Yevgeny Arye directs a version of S. Ansky’s The Dybbuk that in-house playwright Ro’i Hen has literally rewritten “because the story needs a new approach for today’s audience,” said Arye at last Tuesday’s press conference. “Why? Because the question is what is a dybbuk for today’s audience.”

In terms of anthropological psychology “the dybbuk is a psychological phenomenon that goes by different names in different cultures,” he continued, “and in Jewish culture the dybbuk is an external entity that invades the soul.”

Messing with an icon is “entering a minefield” because of the play’s past and reputation, but Arye pointed out that Dybbuk was considered innovative for its time. The current production is “very challenging for all of us, and we expect there’ll be controversy.”

The original Dybbuk tells the story of Leah whose soul is demonically possessed by that of her dead sweetheart Hanan, who manifests himself as Leah is about to be wedded to a wealthy man, the choice of her rich merchant father, Sender.

Despite the best efforts of sages and the rabbinical court, the dybbuk will not be appeased and Leah will join him in the other world.

In the original the young lovers are just that. In Hen’s version, they are much older. Efrat Ben-Tzur plays Leah and Sasha Demidov is Hanan. Doron Tavori, who has just joined Gesher, plays Sender.

Joining Gesher is stepping “into a completely different artistic world,” says Tavori happily, and that he’s diving with gusto into “the very complex web of relationship between Leah and her father.”

Another first is a production for children, The Odyssey, also by Hen who says that no less than Odysseus, the wife and child at home have their own odyssey, that of waiting, so that in essence “it’s a story about family.” (Pessah 2014) Additionally Gesher’s general manager Lena Kreindlin, its designer Michael Karamenko, and choreographer Yehezkel Lazarov will all shepherd their own projects onto the stage.

Women are drastically underrepresented on stage, even today, says Kreindlin so XX will showcase all of Gesher’s actresses in a collage of female characters from the 5th century BCE to our own time and place.

Karamenko’s Heyda is a docudrama using spoken word, a performance art device that focuses on the word itself.

Heyda tells the story of Maccabi Jaffa and how the ups and downs of the team’s fortunes impinge on peoples’ everyday lives.

The incredibly gifted Lazarov, whose Igloo was in the ‘13 Israel Festival, will only say that his piece is based on something from Hebrew literature.

Gesher is also reviving Kfar (Village), commissioned in 1996 from Yehoshua Sobol, the first Israeli play the theater did.

It’s about the daily life of a little village somewhere in the Land of Israel during the tumultuous years from 1940-48, and was a huge success both here and abroad. Also on the roster, and to be directed by Arye, is Of Mice and Men. A new play by and to star Haim Topol is being worked on, a version of Don Quixote is on the cards for 2015 and Gesher will take the revival of Kfar, Dybbuk and others to festivals abroad.

A season to look forward to.
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