Gesher Theater marks 23 years of excellence in new season

Theater chairman Zohar defiantly in face of budget cuts; What’s the point of Gesher if it surrenders and doesn’t do what it believes in?

July 7, 2014 21:35
1 minute read.
Efrat Ben-Tzur is possessed in a Gesher rehearsal

Efrat Ben-Tzur is possessed in a Gesher rehearsal of ‘The Dybbuk’ . (photo credit: COURTESY GESHER THEATER / DANIEL KAMINSKY)

“Critics have praised Gesher’s daring,” observed Yevgeny Arye with his usual bluntness, “but that is precisely what good repertory theater should be doing: that’s our principle and we stick to it.”

Arye, Gesher’s founding artistic director, was speaking of Yehezkel Lazarov’s very personal interpretation of David Grossman’s Falling Out of Time which will continue on to the ’14/’15 season that Arye introduced last week.

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Opening the season will be Brecht’s Good Person of Setzuan (10/14) to be directed by Arye, who’ll also direct Don Quixote (6/15) and War of the Jews (10/15), both freely adapted from their respective novels by resident playwright Ro’i Hen; literary adaptations are an ongoing endeavor at Gesher.

In his first foray as director, Gesher designer Michael Karamenko will tackle Routine (9/14), a merciless black comedy of life in today’s Russia by the Brothers Presnyakov.

“It’s a conventional play with an experimental director,” quipped Karamenko.

Also on the program is Othello (1/15), part of a winter Shakespeare Festival that also includes Hamlet (12/14), Comedy of Errors (2/15) from Moscow and a musical in Hebrew of Romeo and Juliet.

Also on the program is more children’s theater, which started auspiciously this season with The Travels of Odysseus, but “we must see how the money goes,” said Arye.

When Gesher first stunned Israeli audiences with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 24 years ago, the Ministry of Culture and Sport gave it an extra NIS 3 million annually in what they called a language clause, because Gesher’s actors performed in Hebrew before they ever understood the language, as well as in their native Russian.

Now the government has yanked those funds, said Gesher board of governors’ chairman Eli Zohar, “because today we’re considered an Israeli theater like any other.”

Only 28 percent of Gesher’s NIS 25 million budget is public funding, with the rest being earned income and donations.

“Yet still we dare,” said Zohar defiantly. “What’s the point of Gesher if it surrenders and doesn’t do what it believes in?”

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