Cool streets, sea breeze

There is no easier way to expand cultural horizons than street theater.

bat yam street theater 224 (photo credit: )
bat yam street theater 224
(photo credit: )
I have been questioning my education of late - especially when it comes to dating. So I told myself, "Asi, you should stop fixating on movies that include a bunch of guys driving together through Europe where, perhaps one of them, has a sexual encounter with pastry." "Asi," I continue talking to myself, "perhaps you should go to the theater more, or to make things more interesting, street theater." And, if I'm still listening to me, I'll tell myself, "You should check out the cultural scene in some peripheral community that has been recently examining the use of its public space for cultural purposes." Enter the 12th Bat-Yam International Street Theater Festival. There is no easier way to expand cultural horizons than street theater. As opposed to regular theater, where you have to sit for an hour and a half of one dialogue after another, street theater is exciting. This year alone the Bat Yam Festival hosts the show Angels from Belgium (takes place 13 stories in the air), Flame Variations from France (a ritualistic fire show), and the Tony Clifton Circus (where the performers molest a Barbie doll). Hold on a tick. What was that last one exactly? "We don't just molest Barbie dolls," Tony Clifton's Iacobo explains. "In our show, Rubbish Rabbit, we break nearly everything that passes through our hands, we shoot each other, we throw ourselves on the ground, we dance, and we fight with our giant stuffed animals." But again, I still didn't really get the Barbie doll deal. "We are clowns," says Iacobo. Elaborating upon that simple fact he offers, "a clown is crazy, different, free. He is able to give, or rather sell, madness, diversity and freedom. This is our aim in Rubbish Rabbit. In this anxious desire for change, we have found that children are exceptional models, when it comes to the unconscious. They are crazy, different, free - at least until they are transformed into stressed out television dependent consumers." OK, makes sense now. As part of the festival, there are numerous shows open to the public. There's so much in fact that the main problem is distinguishing the pretentious from the great. To that aim the festival's contest between nine original shows should prove very helpful. Ehud Segev and Dana Tal, a duo participating in the contest with their show Time Out, which presents a 20-minute cheer for IDF, are aware that they need to be exciting in the conveyance of their idea. "Our show is great," they say, "we have hot cheerleaders persuading the audience to cheer for the idea that it's good to die for our country. There is great choreographed dancing to marching music mixed with cheerleading music. Eventually the cheer ends with a great big street party." Again, as with the Tony Clifton Circus, I find myself wondering, "Huh?" and "Why?" Does the IDF really need cheerleaders? "We believe," they explain, "that enlisting has become automatic. We see 18-year-old kids dying, Palestinian houses being blown up and Sderot attacked by missiles. And we just move on. Israel has come to accept everything without questioning whether all this fighting is really necessary or if there is another way. We are Zionists and love this country but we want to provoke thought because things here are deteriorating fast." Iacobo, Tal, and Segev all seem to agree that street theater is the best way to reach an audience. "There is a direct, immediate response to your creation," say Segev and Tal. Iacobo adds, "although I work in normal theater as well, I love street theater. It is really important for me to have contact with reality, with the people in the street. It's a good way to talk with the world." The Bat Yam Street Festival takes place at the Bat Yam promenade from August 26-28. For more details visit