They do say, don’t they, that for every two Jews you get at least three
opinions. With that in mind it is heartening to see two of our leading theater
companies doing business in tandem.
Last Saturday evening the Haifa
Theater and Cameri Theater put on the first performance of a new co-production
of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, in Haifa. There is one more show in the north
before the play relocates to Tel Aviv where the current run ends on July 23.
More performances are planned in August and September.
As director Moshe
Naor observes, there is a timeless message or two to be had in All My Sons
play relates the story of a successful businessman, Joe Keller, who supplies
faulty aircraft parts to the US Army during World War Two, inadvertently causing
the deaths of 21 pilots. Rather than take responsibility for the defective
shipment Keller lays the blame at the door of his partner, Steve Deever. As the
play progresses, the truth starts to emerge, to the detriment of both families,
and Keller’s attempt to protect his family from the financial backlash of his
Naor feels that the play’s messages are just as relevant
today as they were play came out in 1948, if not more so.
“The play has
become a classic and was written with some emotion behind it,” says the
“The situation has only deteriorated since then.”
“situation” to which Naor refers is the moral health of society in
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“The area of individual responsibility has worsened, and to what
extent money can be damaging, how much everyone wants to grab for themselves. In
those days the world ended at the fence around your backyard but, today, the
situation is far more extreme.
Today it is each person for himself, even
within the family. In that respect it is much easier to understand Joe Keller’s
actions than it was back then.”
For Naor the current production has been
a long time coming.
“I have been waiting for the right cast to become
available for about three years,” he says.
“We have been working very
hard on this for about 10 weeks, and I still find it as moving as when we
The two-theater company cast includes the likes of Leora Rivlin,
Natan Detner, Yishai Golan and Efrat Arnon.
ONE GETS the feeling, though,
that it is not just the fact that this is a lauded piece of writing by Miller
that has Naor so fired up. Incidentally, All My Sons
followed a string of dismal
failures by the playwright and, incredibly, given his subsequent star-studded
career, Miller was on the verge of trying another means of making ends meet. In
addition to the quality entertainment value of the production, Naor plainly
wants to convey Miller’s messages to the public at large.
“The way the
world is structured today, whereby often the person with the money determines
criteria, and morals can become flexible in such a situation, that is a new
state of affairs,” the director continues.
“I think that situation is
becoming increasingly extreme with time.”
Considering the nadir which
Miller’s burgeoning writing career had reached at the time, the courage
displayed by the playwright in proffering a tale with a strong social-moral
subtext and, indeed, undisguised criticism of the American Dream, is all the
more commendable. In fact, the script eventually landed Miller in trouble with
the House of Representatives House Un-American Activities Committee in the
1950s, when the United States was gripped by anticommunist
“There is something quite shocking in the play which, I think,
was meant to shake up the public in America at the time,” says Naor, adding that
while some of Keller’s motives may be fully understandable the bottom line is unforgivable.
“You might think you that you are doing something to
protect your family, to ensure you don’t lose your job and can still feed your
children and give them a good start to life.
On the other hand, if you
don’t take the streets and express your opposition to something that you believe
to be very damaging, or desist from poor decisions yourself, you might end up
with a world in which your children may not want to live. We are living in times
now that if you shout out too loud about certain issues you might very well end
up losing your means of livelihood.”
While not exactly taking the play
too personally, Naor says that he – and anyone in his position – can’t help but
be affected by the subject matter.
“This production, of course, goes
through my filter, as a father living in contemporary times. People think that,
once the door shuts on the rehearsal room, we completely detach from the outside
the world. It comes through. I am living now and am aware of the current vibe,
here and in the world.”
Given, as he sees it, the general drop in moral
standards Naor feels the audiences will get the messages of All My Sons
clear.For tickets and more info: Haifa Theater – (04) 860- 0500 and
www.ht1.co.il; Cameri Theater – (03) 606-0960 and www.cameri.co.il
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