If 12 months ago Idit Herman had to say what she would be doing this coming week, her answer would not have been “Opening the seventh annual Clipa Aduma Festival.” The co-founder and director of the south Tel Aviv theater probably would have predicted some rehearsals, maybe a performance or perhaps a trip abroad.

Fortunately, she would have been wrong.

For Herman, each Clipa Aduma Festival is the last of its kind. Each year she kisses her hard work goodbye and promises to never go back. And each year she finds herself, one way or another, planning the next program.

“Every year it’s like we have to reinvent the wheel to make this thing happen,” she said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “This festival is being produced in below standard terms, without a budget. It is our staff that cleans the theater every night after the shows. Every festival we say, ‘Why do we need this? It takes so much effort and energy.’ And then a few months pass and artists start to contact us.... But every year that it happens it is, in my eyes, a onetime thing.”

After last year’s festival, which brought physical theater and performance art pieces from Germany, France and Greece to Israel, Herman decided to start looking a little harder within the borders of her own country.

“I think that my focus has very gradually been drawn toward the Israeli pieces. In the past, I wanted a platform for elite artists, and I really wanted to get foreign productions into the program. As time passed, I got more and more interested in the Israeli creations. I want less to show what’s new abroad and the trends that are picking up in Europe and Asia.

I’m more interested in life here,” she explained. “My goals are concentrated in the curation of the Israeli pieces in the program.

They are the most important pieces in my eyes. It is with these pieces that we can hope to change things or to move forward. In the Israeli pieces there are very personal productions.

People really made autobiographical, revealing works. Through these stories we can see many perspectives on life in Israel, be it political or interpersonal. That’s what interested me, these personal confessions.”

The Israeli program will feature works by Ronnie Heller, Yonatan Kunda, Dror Liberman, Ruth Hof, Lee Lorian, Ella Rothschild and Amit Bar- Am. The program is divided into two evenings, Spotlight 1 and Spotlight 2.

Spotlight 1 consists of Hacord, a dance-theater cabaret by Ella Rothschild; The Old Man and the Sea by Amit Bar-Am; Pshat by Yonatan Kunda; and Driftwood, a Butoh performance by Ronnie Heller.

Spotlight 2 will present Lee Lorian’s object theater piece The Mount. Hebron Project, A Man with a Suitcase by Ruth Hof; and Dror Liberman’s performance/ tour of the old central bus station entitled The Lowest Spot in Tel Aviv.

Despite her attempts to keep things local, Herman could not resist including three foreign productions in the program.

“I had almost decided to do only local works, but it turns out that because we had brought the best groups from abroad over the years, the trailblazers, we developed a good name, and people really wanted to come and take part in Clipa Aduma,” she said.

The foreign productions to take part in the program are Upside Down by the German Do Theater; Fragile by the Czech Krepsko Theater Group; and Men, a co-production of Clipa Theater and Japanese Butoh artist Taketeru Kudo.

“These pieces are the cherry on top of the program,” smiled Herman.

Upside Down has made the rounds through Europe for the past decade.

The piece was awarded the Fringe First Award at the 2001 Edinburgh Festival.

Inspired by Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, the piece brings together dance, theater and comedy.

Krepsko’s visit to Israel has been a dream of Herman’s.

“I saw them perform in Belgium and was very moved. Three years have passed since, and I’ve been dreaming of getting them to come here. I didn’t plan for it to happen now, but all the pieces fell into place,” said Herman.

The Czech Centre in Tel Aviv has made Krepsko’s visit possible.

Taketeru Kudo has been to Israel many times. His Butoh performances and workshops have amassed a local fan group. Last year, Clipa produced Men in Tokyo with Kudo.

“We had no intention of bringing it here,” said Herman.

Because the location of the performance is essential to the piece, Herman had to do a fair share of location scouting to find the right venue for Men. In the end, she landed upon the right spot in Haifa. Therefore, Men will be presented only in Haifa.

When asked if she will find herself producing the festival again next year, Herman sighed. “We have to see how it goes. It’s not an obvious festival. We aren’t selling hot cross buns here. I bring things that are radical and experimental. But I believe that this is where theater is going, and I can’t bring anything else.”

Clipa Aduma will take place from February 19 to 24 at the Clipa Theater, 38 Harekevet Street, Tel Aviv. For more information, call (03) 639-9090 or visit www.clipa.co.il.



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