The funny thing is...

The Holon Women's Festival is focusing on humor this year, featuring hilarious comediennes, actresses, dancers and writers

holon women theater (photo credit: (Eyal Landsman))
holon women theater
(photo credit: (Eyal Landsman))
Rivi Feldmesser-Yaron, artistic director of the Holon Women's Festival, wants people to know that women are funny. That's why she chose women's humor as the theme for this year's multi-disciplinary festival of women's artistic achievements. "Women like funny men, but men are afraid of funny women. There's a lot of strength in humor," says Feldmesser-Yaron. "There's a belief that if you're funny, you're not pretty. It's like a survival tool. I was interested in looking at this concept." The Holon happening - which kicks off on February 25 - is a four-day event that features theater, stand-up comedy, dance and music, as well as workshops, discussion groups and art exhibitions. American comedienne Sandra Bernhard is the international guest of honor. "She's a strong performer," Feldmesser-Yaron says of the Jewish comedian-singer-actress-author who is famous for her bitter critiques of celebrity culture and political figures. And Bernhard is just one of the witty dames in showbiz today. Abroad, other names like Tina Fey, Joan Rivers and Sarah Silverman pop up. Here at home, Adi Ashkenazi leads the pack of funny women. "There is no question that there are more funny women than there used to be," Feldmesser-Yaron tells The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. "Today, women are not afraid to take center stage. Just look at Ashkenazi - she's piquant, in the spotlight and doesn't fit the stereotype of fat, ugly, funny woman." THE HOLON Women's Festival is celebrating 13 years. "The festival is a mirror of society today," says Feldmesser-Yaron. "In the early years, the shows told the stories of abused women. Today, it's women who have careers and who are active in art and culture who are taking the spotlight. Instead of dealing with discrimination of women, I believed that the art of women deserved to be highlighted." On the bill are some 20 performances marking premieres at the festival. The Batsheva Dance Company will debut Illusion of Strength, a selection of works choreographed by Ohad Naharin. Five recent theater graduates from Yoram Levinstein's Acting Studio will premiere Black Laundry, a play about intelligent women that was written specifically for the Holon festival. Also on the lineup: To Die For It, a cabaret-style production that gives a lighter view of death; It is said that's she's Cuckoo, a singing-acting show that brings segments from a woman's life to stage; and an all-women's rendering of the legendary rock band Kaveret, with Aya Korem, Efrat Gosh, Ania Buckstein and Emily Karpal. There will also be a premiere screening of the documentary film, Tzmadim Betarbut (Best Friends), on theater's Anat Gov and Edna Maziah. Though progress has been made regarding women's status in Israel and in the world during the last years, Holon festival organizers still believe there's a need to put women's contributions to society, culture, economy and politics in the spotlight. "I believe there is cultural justification for this event," says Feldmesser-Yaron, noting that the festival shows, art exhibits and workshops all deal with fields where women have an impact. "I feel very proud of this festival in putting women's work and art onstage without compromising." And yet, despite its name, the Holon Women's Festival is most definitely not a women-only event. "I believe everybody should come," says Feldmesser-Yaron. "It's an intriguing festival and it's interesting to see what women's culture is about. I would come to the festival." The Holon Women's Festival takes place February 25-28 at the Holon Theater.