Echoes of the summer's war serve as a backdrop to the 27th Acre Festival of Alternative Israeli Theater, which takes place in and around the Old City of Acre starting Sunday.
Over the course of its four days, the festival will feature 12 plays in competition, street theater, exhibitions, workshops and musical events - altogether 350 performances of 45 different productions in this northern coast city's traditional salute to fringe theater.
The war reverberates especially in the art. During and after the raids on Acre, photographers Haim Barbelat, Itai Mautner and colleagues took pictures, resulting in Released for Publication - a giant collage of silk-screened stills that will be projected on the municipality wall.
Freda Steinberger's Frozen Time is among the festival's arts installation, and speaks through a variety of porcelain objects of an earlier, more hopeful time in Israel. The installation also contains photographs by Steinberger's son, Itai, an artist in his own right who was killed in Lebanon on August 12. The installation is dedicated to him.
The 12 plays in competition were selected from 150 submissions. The plays include On the Unity of the Name (Leshem Ihud), presented by the Kaheref Ayin troupe, a group of young observant Jews. Through texts, song and biblical exegesis, the characters seek answers for the loneliness they feel despite the protection of their community and faith.
Two plays from the Arab world are in competition: Gypsy Wedding (Hatuna Tzoanit), a wild absurdist comedy in which a dove and an olive try to get married, and Za'atar Poisoning (Haralat Za'atar), a black comedy that explores the Arab-Israeli relationship through the travails of a za'atar (hyssop) salesman. Both these plays will be presented in Hebrew to reach a wider audience.
Prize-winning lighting designer Arie Vardi has turned director in You Packed Alone (Arazta Levad), a visual theater piece based on poems by Orit Gidli. Moshe Malka offers the wordless Love Box, a mad adventure in which four dispirited clerks are inundated with surprising gifts, and Eldar Galor's Project Jabalya revisits the Gaza refugee camp and its miseries in the winter of 1988, near the start of the first intifada.
The festival's roughly 20 street theater performances include clown shows from Spain and Italy. Among the guest productions is Sijen (Prison), a play from the Druse community that confronts the thorny subject of honor killings.
The budget for this year's festival, thanks in part to a donation of NIS 180,000 from the Keshet Foundation, is NIS 3.4 million, of which NIS 1.5 million comes from the Arts and Culture Authority and NIS 750,000 from the Acre Municipality, which produces the festival.
Tickets range from NIS 40 - NIS 70, but if you go to the dress rehearsals between October 5 and 7, you'll pay NIS 35 for admission.