(photo credit: Courtesy)
The works of celebrated playwright and director Hanoch Levin are being marked in Jerusalem with a week-long workshop held in Mishkenot Sha’ananim by those who love his work so much they translate it into other languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese.
On Wednesday members of the public are invited to hear a discussion between former director of the Cameri Theater, Noam Semel, actress Lillian Barto and Professor Evan Fallenberg.
Fallenberg, along with Jessica Cohen, has translated into English several works by Levin, including Krum, The Wanderers, The Thin Soldiers, and The Lamenters. He is currently the artistic director of the translation residency.
“Translators usually work alone. Here we bring them together with the author,” he told The Jerusalem Post, adding the meeting between translators and writer is of great help to tackle the more sensitive issues of understanding and translation.
Fallenberg said that the workshop is bringing together many of the people with whom Levin worked in his long and lauded career in the theater – among them Semel and Barto, but also Uri Ben Non, who composed for many of Levin’s plays.
Levin, who died 20 years ago, is one of the most important playwrights Israeli theater has produced. Noted for causing a great controversy with his 1970 play The Queen of the Bathtub, which dared to ridicule the adoration many in Israel felt at the time towards the IDF as well as prime minister Golda Meir. This is the only play of his at the moment to be translated into Arabic.
He also displayed tremendous depth and sensitivity when he explored the great tragedies with The Lost Women of Troy, in which he responds to The Trojan Women by Euripides and biblical topics such as the agony experienced by Job in the 1979 play Job’s Passion. That play too caused an uproar as the leading role of Job was played by Yosef Karmon in partial nudity.
Levin also produced extremely funny, and heartbreaking short plays in which characters attempt to gain minor triumphs, and fail, due to their own shortcomings such as in the posthumous 2005 play Move my Heart.
For the first time, Levin will be translated into Japanese by Motoko Sugare. Levin is currently available to Chinese theater lovers thanks to the work of Professor Ping Zhang, while Abed Natour is currently working on translating more of Levin’s plays into Arabic.
All three, as well as other translators from Sweden, Italy, Spain and Germany are taking part in the workshop which is due to end on Thursday.
Held under a quote from Levin – ‘I’m no good at athletics, I’m in poetics’ from the 1992 play Endlessly Mourning – the workshop means to gather the various people who made the immense theatrical talent of Levin shine so bright so that others, in other lands, might be able to enjoy its brilliance as well.
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