Ilan Savir may be the artistic and general director of the Israel Puppet Center
of Holon and its puppet festival, but he also considers himself to be a
missionary, bringing puppetry to the greater Israeli public. Being a puppeteer
himself, Savir believes that puppetry is an art that requires extensive
multitasking skills and versatility.
“Puppetry is one of the arts that
combines all the others,” Savir explains.
“It combines the plastic arts,
all the stage arts… You don’t need to be an actor yourself, but you need to have
the qualities of an actor. You have to know how to move your body, know how to
transfer it into some kind of a tool, which is the puppet; you need to have
voice qualities… So I think that puppetry is a ‘junction’ where all the arts
In order to make the Israeli public appreciate this underground
theater technique as not just simple entertainment but as an artform, the
thirteenth annual International Puppet Theater and Film Festival will include a
wide range of shows and activities, taking place from July 21-25.
from the shows, the center will offer workshops, art exhibits in the museum and
films, all relating to puppetry.
Savir says that all these activities are
necessary in order to get the full scope of the art, and are not any less
important than the puppet shows themselves.
“Within a show you only get
to see the puppets or the creation in the amount of time the creator wants you
to see it – approximately 45 minutes,” he explains. “But if you want to explore
the tool – the puppet itself – then you can take your time in the museum after
the show or before the show.
“There are hundreds of different kinds of
puppets at the museum, from different cultures and different countries. Or if
you want to experiment how to manipulate a puppet, you can do that in the
workshop. And in the film section, you get to see the puppets in a completely
To manipulate a puppet in front of a camera is very
different than to manipulate it in front of an audience.
So this festival
is the festival of the puppetry experience from each and every angle
The festival also includes shows that are targeted
for older audiences in an attempt to prove that puppetry can appeal to
Savir says that the common misconception in Israel that puppet shows are
for children is rooted in language.
“In Hebrew we use the same word for
puppet and for a doll,” he explains. “English has separate words, French
separate words. In Hebrew nobody thought there would be a need for a
word. So I think whenever we say ‘Te’atron Bubot’ – that is, theatre of
dolls – then immediately you think about childhood… I think it’s
adults. The problem is to get the adults to see it.”
The festival will
also present different puppetry techniques throughout the shows. One of
the opera – a 45-minute puppet extravaganza, featuring a 40-piece
seven puppeteers from the center’s school of puppetry, and three singers
“The opera is called Master Peter’s
,” says Savir. “It
is based on an episode from Don
, where Don Quixote enters the inn of Don
Pedro [Peter] and he watches a play and at some point he attacks the
Another form of puppetry used in the festival is that of
marionettes, which Savir claims is a technique related to traditional
which is mostly used in Eastern Europe and is not very popular in
One of the shows, called The Audition
will feature yet another
puppetry technique made popular by the performer Jeff Dunham (known for
puppets Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist) – ventriloquism.
ventriloquist in The Audition
is Dr. Allan Blumenstyk, who is also a practicing
pediatric dentist. In his daily work, he incorporates both professions
puppets to teach children dental hygiene in the office. But The Audition
targeted especially for adults, the setting being a jazz club.
will be performing along with a jazz ensemble, which will be playing
tunes by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, among others “I use four
characters – four different puppets – throughout the show,” says
“And during the performance, these characters come on and off stage and
coming for auditions to become singers for this jazz club.”
claims that through the media and modern technology, children are often
to entertainment that makes ventriloquism less exciting, and it is
more appealing to adults.
“On television, you can see on any channel a
couch talking, a potato talking,” he explains. “So the child is used to
inanimate objects talking. When I do it in my office, most of the time,
person who enjoys it the most is the mother or father. The kid is
but the parents are the ones who are really enjoying it and really
it.”Outdoor puppet shows and the museum
are open to the public free of
charge. Other activities and indoor shows cost between NIS 25 to NIS
For tickets, call (03) 502-1552.