New captain for Herzliya Theater

'Provocative doesn't have to be confrontational,' says Ofira Henig, the new artistic director at the Herzliya Theater Ensemble.

Theater's job is to make waves, to provoke, "but provocative doesn't have to be confrontational," says Ofira Henig, who has succeeded Gedalia Besser as artistic director at the Herzliya Theater Ensemble. "I want theater to arouse dialogue and debate, to be political in the sense of growing from the society in which it lives." In other words Henig intends to make the ensemble exciting, the way the Khan was when she ran that theater in the late '90s, and The Laboratory, a cutting edge performing arts venue whose debut she oversaw. To that end she's put together a three year program of plays and theatrical projects. It starts with her production of Federico Garcia Lorca's tragic and poetic Yerma (1934) that will inaugurate the Herzliya Theater Ensemble's move to its brand-new, purpose built theater in June. Yerma (Gili ben Usilio) is married to Juan, a man she does not really love, and longs for a child. Driven by desperation, she slowly goes mad, with dreadful results. Henig is also directing the September production of Gilad Evron's Don Quixote's Contention inspired by Cervantes great original. In it, the don and the faithful Sancho Panza, who are perfectly aware they're literary figures, set out to prove that there is a Dulcinea. When Henig was a student at Tel Aviv University, she'd sneak into Professor Yossi Yizraeli's lectures. When she ran the Khan, he directed Ibsen's Woman from the Sea, his first production in seven years. In March 2009 he'll direct Euripedes' Iphigenia in Aulis at the Herzliya Theater. In June, Peter Brook's Fragments will be staged. Brook's version of several short plays by Samuel Beckett will be directed locally by Marie Helene Estienne, his right-hand woman. Another adaptation, now getting underway in a collaboration with Vidy Lausanne in Switzerland, is Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf's novel of that name. Designed and directed by Amit (Terminal) Drori, it will premiere locally at the 2009 Israel Festival. For 2010 there'll be another Evron play, All That's Left Is Language, built around Baldwin IV (1161-1185), King of Jerusalem, and Nuremberg 1946 taken from interviews with the Nazi war criminals on trial at Nuremberg.