Javo Rocha brings decades of acting education to Israel

The 46-year-old Tel Aviv resident has already established a name for himself in the theater world opening Spanish-language acting courses in four cities around the country.

 JAVO ROCHA: It doesn’t feel like I am starting from zero. I am reconstructing my life. (photo credit: Javo Rocha)
JAVO ROCHA: It doesn’t feel like I am starting from zero. I am reconstructing my life.
(photo credit: Javo Rocha)

Well-known Argentinean director and acting coach Javo Rocha packed up his bags last year and set his sights on bringing his theater techniques to his new home: Israel.

The 46-year-old Tel Aviv resident has already established a name for himself in the theater world opening Spanish-language acting courses in four cities around the country. He teaches both aspiring actors and those who simply want to take up performing arts as a hobby. He teaches two courses near his home in Tel Aviv, one in Haifa, one in Ashdod and one in Beersheba where he is supported by the municipality. Rocha says he wants two things: to be known as the exotic acting teacher who offers his classes in Spanish and to work with a trusted translator who can accurately convey his techniques to serious Hebrew-speaking actors.

“It’s a hobby for the Latinos. They do it for fun, but I am a professional who wants to give classes to Hebrew-speakers and break the idiomatic wall,” Rocha said during an interview with The Jerusalem Post in a Tel Aviv cafe.

“My technique is special because I focus on bringing out the emotion in the acting. I teach the technique of Eric Morris [an American actor, acting teacher and author who founded his own theory of acting based on the works of Lee Strasberg and Martin Landau]. It’s one that quickly connects to your inner self.”

Rocha started his career in Santiago del Estero, a northern city in Argentina. That’s where his love for the stage began. He entertained the Jewish community with yearly presentations, until, at the age of 17 he moved to the Argentinian province of Tucuman where he began seriously learning the art of theater.

Argentina's flag in Buenos Aires (credit: CREATIVE COMMONS)Argentina's flag in Buenos Aires (credit: CREATIVE COMMONS)

Rocha’s path to acting wasn’t so direct, however. His parents wanted him to have what was considered a proper career and asked him to study something else. In the mornings he learned law, but in the evenings, he belonged to the theater. It took only three months for the performer to kick the law degree in the arse and devote himself to the stage. His first show told the story of Hanukkah for the Jewish community of Tucuman and a year later he started teaching theater to children.

By 19, he was responsible for putting on the Diary of Anne Frank and the shows never stopped coming after that. Rocha was responsible for the theater of Tucuman and produced eight shows during his tenure. The three-floor theater was filled each time and by the age of 19, he became the youngest director in the country.

It was clear by this point that Rocha had to head for the big city of Buenos Aires, which is known for its stellar theatrical performances and for being the largest and most influential theater district of South America.

Rocha grew to become one of the top theater educators in the country and by 2018 was rewarded for his efforts by being offered the role of production director for The Asociación de Periodistas de la Televisión y Radiofonía Argentina (APTRA), an Argentine association of journalists. It’s the most recognized association for journalists in the country and is headed by the famous reporter Luis Ventura.

He directed all the productions that were housed in the APTRA building, which had a grand theater that was not in use. Ventura renovated the room and gave the space to Rocha, where he hosted all his classes and created the Javo Rocha theater school. During his time as a teacher, he produced stars like model Pampita Ardohain, Ramiro Bueno (the son of explosive celebrity cuarteto star Rodrigob a.k.a. “El Potro,” actress Flor Vigna, Albertito Olmedo (the son of iconic Argentinian comedian Alberto Olmedo), Argentinian sex symbol Graciela Alfano and TV star Christian Sancho.

After 12 years of working behind the scenes, Rocha returned to the stage at this time and resumed his acting. The press were all over it and he recalls taking a number of interviews. Rocha continued to run the school while also working the stage, until moving to Israel in March 2021.

“This was a personal choice. To leave APTRA, to start something new here in a place where I don’t have the language. I am renewing my career in a new place,” Rocha said. “I bring all my experience. It doesn’t feel like I am starting from zero. I am reconstructing my life.”

Rocha is moving ahead with his goals, but dealt with an emotional blow in late March, when finding out his mentor Enrique Pinti died in Argentina. A big teacher and role model for Rocha, Pinti is the one who offered Rocha his current stage name one late night in 1996. Pinti referred to him as Javo for short and then finally selected Rocha for the surname during a brain storm. When Javier returned home at 3 a.m after their session, he told his mother to call him Javo Rocha leaving behind his birth name – Javier Mondshayn.

Rocha is working hard to build an entirely new performing arts network. He’s currently spending time meeting with theatrical veterans like Yoram Levinstein who owns Sela – The Performing Arts Studio – one of the best-known theater schools in Tel Aviv, where many TV and film stars studied. He’s also putting together a workshop for Israelis, which will be live translated from Spanish into Hebrew. It’s his first class offered to non-Spanish-speaking Israelis, but won’t be his last.

Rocha is also teaming up with actor Nir Erez to offer a one-time workshop at the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio in Jaffa and has invited the Beersheba Theater’s Artistic Director Shir Goldberg to sit in on one of his classes and potentially help organize a summer course.