In an Israeli first, Bar Ilan University is awarding an honorary doctorate to the entire Gesher Theater company. Since they all can't troop onstage for the ceremony on June 6, Gesher founder and artistic director Yevgeny Arye will accept the degree on their behalf. The honor is awarded not only for Gesher's theatrical achievements, but for its ongoing efforts to build a bridge between the theater culture of Russia and that of Israel.
Founded in 1991, the company of distinguished actors from the former Soviet Union debuted in Israel with Tom Stoppard's Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in Russian, directed by Arye. The production electrified local audiences and galvanized local theater. Swiftly the company started to perform in Hebrew with the actors initially learning their lines phonetically because they didn't understand a word they were saying. Equally swiftly they started to study and understand Hebrew and become integrated into Israeli society; today most of their productions are in Hebrew.
Soon Gesher started to produce work by local playwrights and authors, such as the multiple award-winning Village by Yehoshua Sobol or most recently, Momik adapted from See: Under Love by David Grossman. Meanwhile Arye started taking into the company promising young local actors to intensify the inter-theatrical bond.
In the mid-nineties Gesher was named as one of the six best theater companies in the world by some foreign critics and started to win theatrical prizes, not least our own Israel Theater Prize. The theater has won an astonishing 39 times in various categories from Best Production to Most Promising Actor. Actress and Israel Prize laureate Orna Porat is also getting an honorary doctorate the same evening.