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A visit from the Prague-based theater group Laterna Magika ("The Magic Latern") is welcome news in Israel. Their unique multimedia performance, which combines film images with live performers, offers an escape from reality.
"Israeli audiences are very sensitive and intelligent, and they've always appreciated our visits," Vaclav Janecek, ballet master and artistic adviser to the Czech Theater, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview from Prague this week. "There is a certain unique sensitivity and awareness in them."
Laterna Magika, whose history dates back to 1958, is bringing one of its most beloved productions, "The Wonderful Circus," to Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem starting this weekend for a total of 15 performances. It will be the third time the show has been brought to the country, and the fifth time the group has visited.
Janecek speaks about the show like of a proud father.
"Really, I think this is a record-breaking performance. We have been running the show now continuously for 5,870 performances overall, which ranks among the most-frequently performed show in the world. [ The Wonderful Circus] has participated in 30 overseas tours in 16 countries, and it has lasted over 30 years," he said.
The show, which combines interpretive dance and pantomime along with screen images in the background, features four main roles: a sad clown, a merry clown, an image of Botecelli's Venus and a figure known as the Tempter.
The sad and merry clowns are hatched out of two eggs and suddenly find themselves swept ashore. They are led on an adventure by a vision of Botecelli's Venus, yet they must also war against "the Tempter," who represents deception in life. In total, the performance features six ballerina, nine ballet dancers and four artists of black theater - a unique Czech art form where it appears visually that objects or characters are flying in the air over a black background.
Twenty dancers have alternated roles over the many years of performances, but the basic idea remains constant, and the result is miraculous, according to Janecek. For the performances in Israel, two generations of dancers, father and son Josef and Jan Kotesovsky, will perform together.
"The Wonderful Circus" is suitable for the entire family and will be showing at Tel Aviv University's Smolarz Auditorium Friday March 10-Wed. March 15 (Tickets: (03) 527-6677), the Haifa Convention Center Friday March 17 (Tickets: (04) 866-2244), and Jerusalem's Binyanei Hauma Monday, March 20 (Tickets: (02) 623-7000).