Beit Avi Chai, Jerusalem
In light of the current trend of interpreting Jewish texts through artistic mediums, I eagerly anticipated seeing this sensual and creative rendition of the creation story. Staged by Jerusalem's Mistorin Theater group, Tzar Tzura is an attempt to visually bring this story to life. Artistic director Yulia Ginness weaves a tapestry of midrash, piyyutim (liturgical poems) and other ancient texts into a stimulating and thought-provoking play.
The idea for this "mythic fairytale in motion" was inspired by a 9th century Italian piyyut, composed for the wedding of the author's sister. The poem describes all of creation as preparation for the wedding of Adam and Eve. Basing itself on this idea the play dramatically portrays God's creation of the universe from its first moments to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The play opens with God and His angels in an amorphous reality containing water, the Heavenly throne, constant movement and images showing the evolving world as it comes into being.
Following the performance the audience was invited to stay for a beit midrash-style discussion of the source texts that inspired the performance. This component of the evening was facilitated by Prof. Avigdor Shinan in conversation with Ginness. In addition to the abovementioned poem, the audience-turned-participants also studied ancient mystical texts, midrashim and selections from the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh Epic.
The evening was definitely stimulating. The play was thoughtfully done and artistically powerful. There was, however, a feeling that the attempt to portray God in human form was inadequate and ultimately unsuccessful. In addition, it wasn't clear why a non-Jewish text was included in the source sheet for a discussion of what claims to be an artistic engagement with exclusively Jewish sources. There also was not enough of an active attempt to engage the audience in further discussion.
On the other hand, Ginness's thoughtful comments were well-appreciated and shed much light on the ideas that were brought up in the play. It will be interesting to see what the Mistorin Theater will come up with in the future.