The clumsy romantic, playful guitarist, arrogant peacock and hot-headed break dancer. These are just a handful of personalities you can expect from Mayumana’s new show, Garage 6.
Opened on June 1 at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv’s north port, the show will run throughout the end of August. This is a relatively short amount of time, as the musical-theater-style troupe is known to spend six months to a year developing shows and then running them for a long while — anywhere between three to 12 years. It all depends on how well the show is received by the audience.
If history is an indication, then August won’t be the end of the Garage 6 run. Since 1998, Mayumana has evolved into an unprecedented, experimental blend of music, movement and body percussion that has delighted audiences around the world and put Israel on the performance art map.
Garage 6 has seven characters in it – six males and one female who all work as mechanics in a garage. The star of the show, Hedya Tahar, plays two roles (as most of the characters in the show do) and her gender and spirit causes a stir in the garage. What was once a testosterone-filled work environment gets turned on its head. And which boy will get the girl? The show comes alive with its second narrative – the garage crew bangs on car parts by day, but by night they try to become a professional boy band, singing, dancing and making music by using their bodies and street materials.
“I want to join them, be a part of them and help them succeed,” Tahar explains. “I’m two characters, which is a very fun process. One second you see me on stage as Sharona the mechanic, and in the next scene I’m Susana. We do a lot to help the audience see I’m two characters, whether it be with my voice, my look, my movement. The way I speak. The audience really gets the feeling of fun from the stage. Everyone who sees it, sees how it’s amazing to do all of this – singing, dancing, drumming. It’s very impressive for the audience.”
Mayumana is its own genre. It’s been considered body percussion, non-verbal entertainment and a musical. The creators try to explain just what it is.
“It’s like a Jukebox musical, but in the style of Mayumana,” says Geri Berman, co-creator and artistic director of Mayumana. “The show has a rhythm throughout; it’s the DNA of Mayumana. But this show is incorporating new things.” Her partner weighed in as well.
“It’s so new,” says Boaz Berman, the other creator and artistic director of the show. “It’s something different. It’s more young. There’s more energy on stage. It’s 120 minutes of non-stop action. I realized what we are doing is visualizing music.”
WHAT’S ALSO different about recent Mayumana shows is the introduction of songs that have been remade in the Mayumana fashion. Dialogue – though sparsely used, is also a more recent introduction to the concept that is Mayumana.
The group of actors and singers each come onto the team with different skills. While some are stronger in music, others are stronger in acting. Geri and Boaz Berman like to foster artists, creating almost a conservatory for the arts. By the end of the process, stars are made. They say it’s the most rewarding part of the job. Moreover, each performer gets to work their best talent into the show – whether it be by helping choreograph or adding in musical notes to songs.
24-year-old Or Taragan plays the role of Hammer, who is the character who wants to have fun all the time. You won’t spot him on stage without a guitar, as he’s the musical stronghold of the show. His colleagues refer to him as a guitar master, calling him impressive and that it’s a “massive role, musically.” Though Taragan has always been a musician, he wasn’t always a dancer. Mayumana is where he really learned how to work with his body. The artist started working at Mayumana four years ago while serving in the army.
“When he’s dancing with a group, it looks like he’s been dancing with a group since two years old,” Geri Berman says. “It’s not easy to cross disciplines like this. It’s very difficult to find somebody who is a Justin Timberlake, who comes prepared and does everything. There are very few people who can do this.”
Berman says no creation can be made in isolation. The rest of the actors feel the same way.
Eitan Goldman, 23, plays the role of Diesel, considered to be the “jack of all trades” in the garage and also plays a twin on stage. Goldman says for him, the show is a mirror of his real life. This is his first professional show as an on-stage performer.
“I think what’s special for us all and I speak for myself,” he explains. “Because most of us are new and the show is about a group wanting to be a successful boy band and making the dream come true – it’s kind of our lives as well. I think each one of us can connect it to our lives. We’re all in our process of being a successful performer. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
And for the clumsy romantic… Yuval Shmueli, 24, plays the role of Jack. A lover boy on stage, Shmueli says he relates to his character in real life.
“All my friends who saw the show say it’s just me on stage pretty much,” Shmueli says. “Because he’s crazy, Jack. He makes a lot of facial expressions and I do a lot to show emotion using my face. It really pops out during my solos. The faces are a thing.”
Shmueli says his experience working with the group has been a powerful one.
“One time I actually cried during rehearsals because it touched something in me. For me, this show is really about – if you can dream, you can do it and if you can actually do it – then go for it.”
Though there might be some confusion as to what exactly Mayumana is classified as – the entire cast agrees they hope audience members leave feeling like they can reach for the stars and actually catch one.Ori Lenkinsky contributed to this report.
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