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Tal Kark, 32, has been working with director Ruth Kanner since her senior year at the theater department of Tel Aviv University in 1999.
Now she's a member of Kanner's company, playing the double role of narrator and protagonist in "Swimming in the Sea"- the second of two plays that comprise "By the Sea," Kanner's dramatization of two short stories by noted Israeli author S. Yizhar.
"Swimming" tells of an accidental drowning, of what happens to the soul when the body gives up and the sea encroaches on it, when it's too late to think about the things you might have done differently - too late even for survival.
Kark both tells of and enacts the victim's mounting terror, and every performance "is a huge challenge. We all drown, or face a drowning in some way, and working on this show I asked myself 'where did I drown?' I need to confront this with body and voice at every show and do it through the text, only through the text. We're asking questions that we hope the audience will ask itself."
The first play, "Walking by the Sea," is a story of boy meets girl by the Kinneret. On the surface, it is a tale of pastoral innocence. Kark plays a marginal role in this one. She sits in a chair at the side of the huge sheet of white paper that represents the lakeshore and makes paper flowers. "This story isn't easy to tell in today's reality," says Kark, "and this is the way we choose to tell it. Maybe we've lost even the ability for innocence."
Kark has never sought to work with anybody other than Kanner. She was the narrator in Kanner's prize-winning "Discovering Elijah" at Acre in 2001 and participated in "Bathers" ('03) that was based on conversations among women that Kanner had collected in a changing room - a work that included six dancers from the Batsheva Dance Company (BD) - the first BD/Kanner collaboration.
The work she and the rest of the company do with Kanner is exciting for Kark "because with every piece we do there are more questions. Each work is a new language with new questions, and it's always a challenge, never ordinary. It's exciting and fascinating and the kind of work I want to do."
For "By the Sea," the rehearsal questions are over, but for Kark and the rest of the company "the performances open another door to new questions. The process never ends. The second we stop asking questions, it's all over."
"By the Sea" will be performed on January 25, 26, 27, 28, and February 1, 2. Performances are at Studio Varda, Suzanne Dellal Center Tel Aviv. Price: NIS 110.