A festival of their own

The Holon Women's Festival runs Tuesday through Saturday, in conjuncion with International Woman's Day.

women 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
women 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Such was Virgina Wolf's famous recommendation in her 1928 essay "A Room of One's Own." It's advice held in high esteem by Rivi Feldmesser-Yaron, artistic director of the Holon Women's Festival running Tuesday through Saturday, in conjunction with International Women's Day, March 8. "Woolf's observations on the necessary conditions for women to create are still pertinent today," says Feldmesser-Yaron who has adopted the axiom as the festival's theme. "The festival aims to explore the economic and social conditions which inspire women's creativity." For this year's guest of honor, famed British songbird and recently turned actress Marianne Faithfull, inspiration was gleaned from triumph over adversity. "Marianne's defeat of her drug addictions and her subsequent reinvention are well known," says Feldmesser-Yaron. "Her determination to build something good from negative experiences made her an ideal choice for the festival." Faithfull will perform a career overview called Songs of Innocence and Experience at the festival on March 7 (and at Tel Aviv's Zappa club on March 9). Since she's not out promoting a new album, Faithfull told The Jerusalem Post that she's free to play what she wants. "Of course, I'll do some old favorites, but I'm also going to throw in some surprises," she promised. Faithfull, who has appeared in Israel many times, says she enjoys visiting the Tel Aviv area because "it's jumping. However, since I don't go out to nightclubs anymore, I can't indulge." The festival's two other British productions are ones which impressed Feldmesser-Yaron at last year's Edinburgh festival. Female comedy-group The Umbrella Birds' show WC offers snippets of other people's lives through their gossip sessions, tantrums and heart-to-hearts inside a women's public bathroom. 'Umbrella Bird' member Emily Watson wrote the piece based on intensive research of the conversations that strangers strike up in this intimate public space. Male Edinburgh audience members were said to be particularly taken by the show, claiming that male lavatories offer no similar experience. An Audience with Adrienne sees British comedian Adrian Howells performing as his alter-ego, middle aged housewife Adrienne, entertaining small audiences in her living room. "I hope to broaden people's horizons through this performance," says Feldmesser-Yaron, "to encourage consideration of the phenomenon of cross-dressing and why it appeals so much to certain men." On the Israeli front, Ainat Mor's Creatures of the Night depicts the hopes and fears of three new mothers as envisaged in the small hours of the morning while nursing their infants. In their sluggish state, the women contemplate the realities of their new responsibilities. Eynat Baranovsky's The Road to Jalah (Paradise) profiles the journey of five Palestinian women en route to a suicide-bombing mission in Israel. "Each has somehow disgraced herself within her society and therefore was forced into the mission," explains Baranovsky, whose research found that Palestinian women rarely embark on suicide missions of their own freewill. "Female suicide-bombers have usually had an affair out of wedlock or committed some other supposedly improper act, and as a result of the patriarchal society they live in, they are then forced to 'repent' in this way," she says. Baranovsky's cast members are of Israeli, Arabic, Russian and Ethiopian heritage, so as "to reflect the patriarchal elements existing in every society. While Palestinian society is an extreme example of a male-dominated society, this feature is by no means exclusive to Arab communities. I'm trying to show that women are repressed, to some extent, in every society." The festival is not solely feminist-oriented. Young singer/actor Rili and comedian Nadav Bosem play tribute to classic 'Beautiful Israel' songs of previous generations in a piano-accompanied performance entitled "Mai Nafka Mina", a Talmudic phrase that means "What will we get out of this?" - the name of a song by Eli Gurlitsky. Sasha Argov, Natan Alterman, Nissim Eloni, Chaim Hefer and Moshe Vilinsky are among the other artists whose works are sung, as the performers look back to where we were, and ask, was it really better, way back when? Dance fans can enjoy a performance by a group of versatile senior citizens aged between 72 and 84 as well as the Vertigo ensemble's latest productionWhite Noise. The performance juxtaposes scenes of chaotic modern life with others depicting nature in its more serene mode. Three conferences will be taking place: on women in business, on eco-feminism, and an international one on women in architecture featuring speakers from abroad. The festival runs from Tuesday through next Saturday at the Holon Theater, the Holon Mediatheque and the Steinberg Performing Arts Center. For tickets to specific performances call (03) 502 3001/2/3 or (03) 604 5000 or visit www.hth.co.il David Brinn contributed to this article.