IDO KOLTON’S ‘Father of the Year.’ .
(photo credit: YOSSI YAROM MOKTIN)
It was 1990 when canny impresario Yaakov Agmon came up with the idea of a festival devoted to one-person shows, or monodramas, and it’s been going strong ever since. What’s more, Israel’s TheaterNetto has inspired a raft of similar festivals around the world. This year’s 29th annual festival takes place at the Crusader fortress in Acre during the intermediate days of Passover, April 21-23, and in and around the Jaffa Theater in Old Jaffa from April 22-24.
There are 12 plays in competition for the Nissim Azikri Best Play Award, two guest productions, and on the Jaffa Theater plaza, as they do annually, students from the theater department at the Kibbutz Seminary will present their take on the human condition here and now in this, our land.
The 12 plays run the gamut when it comes to subject matter. They include: Father of the Year, written and performed by Ido Kolton, about a young gay man who wants to be a father, and of the minefields he must traverse to be one; Jacob Jacob, by Tamar Levine, after the award-winning novel by Valérie Zenatti about a young Algerian Jewish soldier during World War II and the people he meets; I Was There, by often controversial but celebrated Israeli playwright Moti Lerner, which relates what happens to an IDF commander when he rebels against, and tries to exact justice for, an illegal order deliberately targeting civilians at Rafiah; In Grandma Varda’s Parlor, by Dudi Ohana, in which a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor Varda Tzippori is supposed to bear witness to a film crew from Yad vaShem, but that’s not quite what happens; Yerma, adapted from the Lorca classic, about a barren woman obsessed by her inability to conceive and oppressed by the society in which she lives; the autobiographical Moving the Sun, written and performed by Tarin Shalfi, about how she matched wits, body and soul, with the diagnosis of cancer. In Falafel, by Hadas Calderon and Oded Ehrlich, Roni’s dream is not to be the No. 1 soccer coach of Or Yehuda. Can he convince his dad?
One of the guest productions is Yossel Rakover Talks to God. What makes this piece special is that, heartrending though it may be, it was not removed from a bottle found in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto, as people all over the world thought, but started out in 1946 as a story written by Zvi Kulitch for an Argentinian Yiddish newspaper. What makes it even more special is that Shmuel Atzmon-Wirtzer, now 90, will perform the play in Hebrew, not in the Yiddish that’s kept it alive for 70 years. Atzmon, as most people know, is the founder of Yiddishpiel, established in 1987 and the theater that keeps Yiddish alive. The other guest show is Talking to Me, a spoken word piece written and performed by Michal Mazar.
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