Habima Theatre to stage play by beloved Jewish Italian author Natalia Ginzburg

 Actress Meirav Gruber, the 'Advertisement'  (photo credit: THEATRE NATIONAL HABIMA)
Actress Meirav Gruber, the 'Advertisement'

The meaning of love and friendship, the challenges of life in a world that could feel far away in time and space but nonetheless has important messages to contemporary Israel. In February, Israel’s National Theatre Habima will stage a play by beloved Italian author Natalia Ginzburg (1916-1991), with the support of the Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Written in 1969, “The advertisement” focuses on three characters, Elena, Teresa and Lorenzo. 

Elena, a young and innocent student, seeks a room to rent and finds an ad in the newspaper that leads her to Teresa's apartment. She does not know yet that the turn of events will change her life. The landlord recently separated from her husband, Lorenzo, who moved on with his life, while Teresa is still grieving her loss. Yet, he comes back to visit her, and the drama elevates.

'The Advertisement' (Credit: HABIMAH NATIONAL THEATER)'The Advertisement' (Credit: HABIMAH NATIONAL THEATER)

"And to think that I came here by chance, because of an ad in the newspaper! If I hadn't read the newspaper that day, I'd never have met Teresa," says Elena in the Second Act.

A surprising and humorous drama with an Italian ambiance, fluctuating between crying and laughing, the play was first produced by the National Theater in London and directed by Sir Laurence Olivier and by the Piccolo Theatre in Milan, directed by Giorgio Strehler. It was also adapted to a movie, directed by Luchino Visconti.

At Habima, the main role is going to be played by actress Meirav Gruber, who is making her comeback to the national theatre stage after 20 years.

Ginzburg’s books have all become very popular in Israel.

"The Advertisement" is included in the collection "Where is My Hat?" published by the New Library in 2021 and edited by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Menakhem Perry.

“Many years ago, in December 1987, I boldly persuaded Natalia Ginzburg to choose us – a new literary series headed by myself, at the time a young and ambitious editor and investigator – over a well-established publishing house which offered her a much bigger advance,” Perry said, recalling how he explained to the author that they were planning to translate all her work over the years and to make it “part of the blood flow of the Israeli literary world.”

“She agreed, we kept our word, and today Ginzburg is considered in Israel as one of the best writers of the 20th century,” Perry said.

The professor highlighted the quality of Ginzburg’s plays.

“When I read her plays – funny and heartbreaking at the same time, all centring on the loneliness of lost and unexperienced women and the imperviousness of men deprived of self-conscious –  I saw them as wonderful dialogical long stories (novellas), completely adequate to reading, but at the same time, I hoped they would catch the attention of some theater,” he said, praising Habima’s director Dr Roy Horovitz for recognising the potential of the Italian author’s work.

“This is a wonderful demonstration of Ginzburg's status in the Israeli literary culture, and hopefully more of her plays will find their way to the stage from now on,” Perry concluded.

This article is powered by Ministry of Foreign Affairs