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The daily struggles of former Gush Katif inhabitants one year after their evacuation were encapsulated last week by a group of women from the Nof Ayalon settlement.
There's a Place, a musical performed by an all-female cast, was written and directed by Ayalon residents Judy Miller and Anat Maskani of the Ruth Hyman Theater and featured women and teenagers from the settlement.
"We wanted to create a community based project," says Miller, a teacher by profession, of their motivation for the play. "It was important to us that women of all ages be able to work on something together."
She also cites a desire to raise awareness of the issues confronted in the play among the younger cast and crew.
"Often young people lose interest in matters not directly related to them," says Miller. "We wanted the youth of our town to be conscious of the fact that one year on, despite the disappearance of media interest, the people of Gush Katif are still suffering."
The pair also hoped to convey this message to their viewers, an all-female audience made up of Anglos and Israelis of all ages, the majority of whom were Orthodox.
The play focuses on the relationship that develops between two families. Gush Katif evacuees Gila and her daughter Dikla are staying in the center of the country so Dikla can receive psychological help for the post traumatic stress disorder she's developed as a result of the evacuation.
They are hosted by Sarah and her wayward teenage daughter Liat, whose initial apprehension of their visitors gradually changes to respect and admiration.
The performance begins with a group of dancers hoisting the characters out of a huge television screen. The routine, devised by Maskani, a professional director, is designed to emphasize "the average Israeli's detachment from the plight of the evacuees whom they consider to be just people on the TV," and creates a strong impact. The viewer becomes engaged in the characters' stories from the start.
This effect is compounded by the cast's impressive acting skills. Particularly noteworthy is Rachel Shfercher Frankel as Gila, the desperate mother dealing with the ramifications of the evacuation on her family, who are still homeless and lacking a stable income. Hodaya Corsa also delivers a memorable performance as her eldest daughter, Bat El, who is convinced that violence is the only way forward. Both are so believable that the audience became completely caught up in their story, experiencing their turmoil and tension along with them. This tension is heightened by the haunting background music and dance routines that contribute to the underlying atmosphere of confusion and anxiety.
The production is successful in its goal of creating empathy for its characters whose poignant depiction of the loss and instability still experienced by the evacuees cannot fail to move.