The new Stage Workshop Center season has just kicked off and, as center founder
Rivi Feldmesser-Yaron notes, there is ne’er a dull moment to be had anywhere in
The center was established in 2002 and is located on Salame
Street in south Tel Aviv. Throughout its existence to date the center has
striven to break new ground in all areas of the performing arts, including
theater, film and TV acting, dance, screenwriting and playwriting, puppeteering
and music, as well as the plastic arts.
The coming year will see the
center host a wide range of cutting-edge art events and activities based on
unconventional teaching and practical methods. All of the activities are
designed for professionals in the various fields, while some are also open to
the public and will provide audiences with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how
performing artists do their business.
The Dancer Studio, for example,
comprises a series of intimate discussions with a bunch of top choreographers
taking part in interviews based on set questions, but with an interviewer of
their choice. The interviewees include such stellar dance professionals as Ohad
Naharin and Sharon Eyal from the Batsheva Dance Company, Yasmin Goddar and
Arkadi Zaides, and will no doubt shed some light on what goes into putting a
modern dance show together.
“The center is a sort of exploration facility
for the professional community, but it also delivers art products which are open
to the public,” explains Feldmesser-Yaron, adding that the center offers
something that artists cannot find anywhere else.
“I think this is the
only center of its type in the whole world. The content provided is unique, and
simply does not exist in the market, anywhere. This is not an advanced
post-school training facility. The content we offer is the result of very
serious thought and analysis of what the art sector has to offer, and what is
The center may be unique, but Feldmesser-Yaron admits she got
some of her ideas from other professional facilities abroad.
Actors Studio in London, but that is only for actors, and there’s the
International Workshop Festival for professionals in London. I stole a bit from
different places and put the center together. The center works all through the
year, not as a one-time thing.”
Art is of course, by definition, a
creative field and the center endeavors to stay ahead of the
“There are new things and developments at the center every year,”
states Feldmesser-Yaron. “We are always opening new channels of study and
exploration, based on analysis and understanding of what went on in the previous
year. We are always accumulating experience and know-how, and if we feel there
is any area that hasn’t been addressed we get on with it.”
search for new avenues of artistic expression also means that the center steers
clear of ideas it feels have run their course.
“If we see that we have
exhausted some topic we don’t continue with it. We move on.”
of the center, and the new season, lies in the quality of the teachers and
“We have our Actors Studio, which is run by [veteran
actors-directors] Oded Kotler and Amnon Meskin and is based on life ambition –
the acting roles which the workshop participants dream of playing. This is a
completely professional forum of actors and, by the way, all the people who run
the workshops do so on a voluntary basis.”
The latter spirit certainly
helps with the center’s finances, but Feldmesser- Yaron says that the facility
is not exactly awash with hard cash.
“The participants pay fees to take
part in our activities but that only covers half of our outgoings,” she says.
The problem, it seems, is of a pigeonhole nature.
“I have to wait until
December 31 each year to see how much I am going to get from the Ministry of
Culture, which makes it very difficult to plan the year. We don’t fit any of the
ministry’s defined categories for funding because we are unique, so, from the
point of view of the official funding bodies, we don’t exist. We have premises
but, you know, professional success doesn’t always go hand in hand with
financial success. We were lucky to get support from the Bracha Foundation for
the first five years, otherwise I don’t see how we could have got the thing
As the center is now going into its 10th year, someone somewhere
must be doing something right.
Financial straits or no, the center keeps
churning out frontier-pushing activities, while helping professionals to get
their stuff out there. On March 5 Yehezkel Lazarov will oversee the Pre-premiere
Club, at which theater artists will present previews of their works in progress
to theater managers, directors and the public, after having worked on them with
Lazarov. Elsewhere in the center schedule, actress-comedienne-singer Yarden Bar
Kochba will run the Play By the Book activity, and will work with actors on
turning new Israeli books into stage performances. This year Bar Kochba’s group
will perform a production based on Eldad Cohen’s new book Sefer Hamanginot
(The Blue Tune Book), which will take place on March 10.
center also cultivates playwriting, through a four-prong program, leading to
stage productions of plays written at the center’s playwriting school in
conjunction with Beit Lesson Theater in Tel Aviv.
“I believe that artists
should receive decent pay for their work, and that the establishment should
respect their work,” says Feldmesser-Yaron.
“I would like to see that
happen one day.”For more information about the Stage Workshop Center:
(03) 624-1546, email@example.com and www.stagecenter.org.