Justice examined

Jerusalem's Hazira fringe art ensemble hosts a 'legal' festival at its new location at Gerard Bechar.

If the word "court" conjures up dull images of lawyers walking around holding binders stuffed with reams of legalese, maybe Aeschylus, the Greek who founded drama as we know it around 500 BCE, can give us another take. Aeschylus's Eumenides, which involves the mythological trial of Orestes for the murder of his mother Clytemnestra, will be performed as part of "Criminal Intent," a mixed-arts festival celebrating and challenging the words of our legal system. Legendary actress Hannah Meron will be reading the part of the Furies, who demand vengeance for Clytemnestra, at Thursday's performance in HaZira's five-day festival. The Jerusalem fringe-arts group, whose name translates literally as "The Scene," has recently moved from its long-standing home at the Khan Theater to the Leo Model hall of the Gerard Bechar culture complex in Nachalaot. "Criminal Intent" will see the modular theater as the setting for a variety of expositions and performances taking place between Tuesday and Saturday night. Tuesday night's show starts with more than an hour of musical offerings that demonstrate the variety of approaches to justice within our culture. Take for example, a musical interpretation of the sotah, the woman suspected of adultery and directed, according to the Torah, to drink a burnt parchment to determine her guilt or innocence. Or on the other hand, a musical interpretation by Aryeh Shapira about the trial of Rudolf Kastner, a Hungarian Jewish leader during the Holocaust considered a collaborator by some for having cooperated with Eichman in order to save only one trainload of Jews. On Wednesday, an avant-garde piece by Ruti Sela and Kalil Nadiv called "Loopolice" is being shown. Saturday night brings a picture of law from a chaotic, senseless society - Ethiopia under the Red Terror of Stalinist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. Natale Theater, a group of Ethiopians and native Israelis working together since 1994, present "The Trial of the Analphabetic Revolutionary," where a man is tried for urinating on the wall of a governmental office. The HaZira festival will be pushing the envelope in numerous other ways, from a "performance" of actual legal advice for one shekel, to a photography display by prison inmates, and many other shows and exhibitions. Criminal Intent is organized into seven programs - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will have two programs each, with the first starting at 7:45 p.m. (doors open 7 p.m. for viewing the exhibition) and the second at 10:15 p.m. (doors open 9:30). Saturday night will feature one program at 9 p.m. (doors open 8). Tickets are NIS 60 (50 discount) for each program, NIS 100-80 for two programs. On Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday there will be screenings and discussions at the Cinematheque related to the festival. Details at www.arts-festival.jerusalem.muni.il