Celebrating the bard

A month's worth of Shakespeare-related plays, performances and films opens Thursday at the Cameri Theater.

king lear 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
king lear 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv's first-ever International Shakespeare Festival presents both local and international talent for a wide ranging look at the great poet and playwright's work. Famous British film and stage actress Susannah York comes in to perform her internationally lauded one-woman show, The Loves of Shakespearean Women. She portrays diverse female characters in his works, including the Queen of Denmark from Hamlet, Juliet of Romeo and Juliet, Lady Macbeth of Macbeth and the Maid Emilia of Othello. British actor and playwright Steven Berkoff makes a return trip to Israel to for his one-man show Shakespeare's Villians, which opened for the first time in London nine years ago. Just as Shakespeare's plays feature characters for whom love is central to their experience, they also feature those for whom evil behavior fills a similar place. Berkoff, who wrote the play, will storm the stage in his portrayal of Shakespearean bad guys MacBeth, Shylock, Richard III and Iago, among others. The festival, running through June 6, includes Hebrew versions of Shakespeare's great tragedies, such as the Cameri's new production of King Lear (which gives the many fans of brilliant comedian/actress Keren Mor the chance t see her do Shakespeare), its much praised and prized production of Hamlet, a joint Itim Dance Ensemble/Cameri Theater production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and open reherasals of its upcoming production of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a modern classic that turns the spotlight on the lowly, peripheral characters of Hamlet. Several performances of Efraim Kishon's 1973 Shakespeare take-off Oh, Oh Juliet!, which shows what would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had managed to evade the confusion that led to their suicides and went on to live as husband and wife, complete with the arguments that characterize typical marriage. The festival will also screen film adaptations of Shakespeare's classics Richard III, Hamlet, Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice.