Ladies night at the Cameri

Normally, a student production runs for two weeks, but in this case, it joined the elite ranks of Israeli theater.

There is nothing more that I want from a Saturday night than to explore the complex vicissitudes of the female life cycle. After a two year run, La Mariposa will no longer guide us through the tears and joy, as its final performances are this week. La Mariposa represents the first student theater project to experience such extraordinary success as an extended production at one of Israel's finest cultural institutions. Normally, a student production such as this runs for two weeks, only to join the ghosts of theater past, but in this case, it joined the elite ranks of Israeli theater. Born-in choreographer Galya Fradkin led a senior seminar at the Kibbutzim College of Education on virtually no budget. According to her, Fradkin and her students developed the piece in a joint and fully cooperative effort. So impressed with the results, she invited theater managers from across the country to come see the production and its potential. Fortunately, Noam Semel, the Director General of the Cameri and recent Israel Prize Recipient, recognized the play's greatness and brought it to his theater in Tel Aviv. Ultimately, the show landed not only a regular spot at the Cameri Theater but also highly successful international tours through Poland and China. The piece itself found its inspiration in the book, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, which analyzes myths from around the world that demonstrate the primitive side and gut instincts of women. The play, quite literally, threads through the life cycle of women. A nexus of various colored threads connecting mother to child, dominates the set design. Throughout the performance the audience experiences highs and lows - childhood, pregnancy (a birth is enacted on stage) and motherhood making up the unique female experience. At the end of the birth scene, an umbilical thread is cut, representing separation and the new life that perpetuates the cycle. The seven actors are all women, and six of them worked on the production together with Fradkin from the beginning. As is the tradition of the school, each player was encouraged to bring her own style to the performance, all the while nurturing the production from its conception. While there is no dialogue in the show, the players are considered actors, not classically-trained dancers. Nevertheless, the performance successfully creates emotive scenes through its choreography, colorful set and dynamic music. This week's performances will metaphorically sever the chord with the Cameri Theater. Fradkin hopes to find new homes elsewhere to foster a new generation of the unexpectedly successful show. Naturally the performance is particularly relatable for women, however Fradkin has received interesting responses from male audience members as well. "The men tend to be very curious," she says, "some say it's very frightening," but they express gratitude for an insider look at the feminine mystique. After all, who, more so than men, appreciate the mystery and complexity that is woman? La Mariposa is showing on Dec. 28 and 29 at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater. For show times and ticket prices visit