Israeli play featuring Netflix actors opens major theater festival in Cyprus

 
 Nicosia International Festiva (photo credit: Yiannis Kourtoglou)
Nicosia International Festiva
(photo credit: Yiannis Kourtoglou)

An Israeli play featuring two actors who starred in two popular Netflix series opened a major theater festival in Cyprus at the end of October with the support of the Embassy of Israel in Nicosia.

The play "He Who My Soul Loved" by the Habima National Theater, was chosen to be the opening performance of the Nicosia International Festival. At the center of the story is Jonathan, a 17-year-old boy from a religious family who is forced to come out of the closet and then to undergo conversion therapy after he is seriously injured in a terror attack against a gay club in Tel Aviv.

Ambassador Oren Anolik, Director Moshe Captain, Festival Director George Papageorgiou, Deputy Minister Yiannis Toumazis, Deputy Ambassador Rotem Segev , Cultural Attache Maria Hadjigeorgiou, with Amit Rahav, Orly Silbersatz, Yadin Gellman, Itay Segal (Credit: Yiannis Kourtoglou)Ambassador Oren Anolik, Director Moshe Captain, Festival Director George Papageorgiou, Deputy Minister Yiannis Toumazis, Deputy Ambassador Rotem Segev , Cultural Attache Maria Hadjigeorgiou, with Amit Rahav, Orly Silbersatz, Yadin Gellman, Itay Segal (Credit: Yiannis Kourtoglou)

Playing Jonathan is Amit Rahav, who gained international fame for his role in the Netflix series “Unorthodox.” The play also starred Orly Silbersatz Banai from the internationally-acclaimed Israeli series “Shtisel.” Both actors received a particularly warm welcome by the Cypriot audience.

Some 400 people attended the event, including Yiannis Toumazis, Deputy Minister of Culture of Cyprus and his partner, Koula Sophianou, deputy Diplomatic Advisor to the President of Cyprus, Savva Kiriakides, the Artistic Director of the National Theater, Eleni Mavrou, former member of Parliament and the CEO of the Dialogos Media Group, Christakis Papavassiliou, the president of the Israel-Cyprus Business Association, prominent figures in the art and culture scene, journalists and diplomats.

Credit: Yiannis KourtoglouCredit: Yiannis Kourtoglou

At the reception held after the show, the Director of the Festival, George Papageorgiou, and Ambassador of Israel Oren Anolik thanked the Habima team and the guests. 

Anolik said, “Israel and Cyprus are strategic partners and good friends in many fields, including culture. We have a long-standing relationship with the Nicosia International Festival and we plan to broaden the cooperation next year in light of Israel’s upcoming 75th anniversary.”

The play also received extensive media coverage. In one of the interviews, Moshe Kaptan, who is considered the undisputed leading director in Israel in musicals and reality shows (The Masked Singer, Survival, The Voice) said: 

“Hate crime is a universal crime. Hate crimes against minorities take place all over the world and as an artistic director, for a long time, I have been trying to give the LGBTI community a platform and raise awareness of society's attitude towards it. What triggered the need to share this story is a news story I read about conversion therapy in the Ultra-Orthodox community. They don't particularly hide it from the eyes of the world, as if it were a legitimate practice. I approached playwright Itai Segal and asked him to write a play. He suggested that I expand the story on the important issue of parent-child relationships, acceptance, inclusion and tolerance. The role of theater is to encourage thought, reflection and discussion on any subject. For years, the LGBTI community was pushed to the margins and did not receive the place it deserves in the public debate.” 

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