Theater Series: Experimental and exotic at the ZOA

The annual Pot'him Bima (Setting the Stage) festival provides aspiring playwrights what they need most - a platform on which to display their work.

The annual Pot'him Bima (Setting the Stage) festival provides aspiring playwrights what they need most - a platform on which to display their work. Previous plays first showcased in this framework have gone on to long - and in some cases ongoing - runs. Hadar Galron's Mikvah, for example, dates back to the 2003 event and has become part of the regular repertoire of the festival's sponsor, the Beit Lessin Theater. Next weekend's festival features four fully-staged new plays, along with 10 readings. An added attraction this year will be a theatrical "Speed Date", as selected members of the audience will whiz through that trendy courtship ordeal with 10 planted actors and actresses at a specially set up café in the garden of the ZOA house. Another addition to the festival bill is "My First Play," in which a roster of established playwrights - Hillel Mittelpunkt, Edna Maza, Amnon Levi, Savyon Liberecht, Goren Agmon and Yaeli Ronen - speak with Beit Leissin head Tzipi Pines about the first time they saw their scripts translated to stage. The four fully-staged plays center on the personal: the stylized, humorous dance of nine couples in Love Story; a lyrical look at the impact of careerism on the chance for intimacy in Dawn; a comedy about a yuppie couple whose life takes an unexpected turn upon hosting the son of a single-mother friend in Weekend with Tom; even Dolphins, about a war widow who desires to impregnate herself with the frozen sperm of her husband against the wishes of his parents. The protgonist of Dolphins turns into a national heroine for her effort, yet the work ultimately focuses on the intimate, as the young woman falls for a romantic nature photographer and is torn between her love for her fallen husband and her passion for the living man. The ten scripts chosen for theater readings - performed on stage by preeminent performers such as Hana Laslau, Hani Nachmias, Rubi Shuval-Poreah and Amos Lavi and directed by established directors - reflect a wider spectrum of concerns. The political thriller Ramallah looks at an Israeli undercover agent long planted in that Palestinian city, who undergoes an identity crisis as his daughter tries to get close to him. Winner of the 2007 Theaternetto Prize, Observation dramatizes the true story of a passionate young psychologist who suddenly finds herself forcibly incarcerated in a mental hospital. In the social drama They Gave Up on Her Long Ago, a young Russian immigrant is torn between the prison of her immediate family and her lover. And for an even more exotic concept, there's the period drama An Anatomy of Teshuva, in which Yosefa Ben Shoshana examines the talmudic tale of Reish Lakish, the legendary robber who turned to a different path through his friendship with the young and charismatic sage Yohanan. September 6 - 8, ZOA House. Call (03) 725-5333 for details or (03) 695-9341 during the festival. Tickets run from NIS 50 to 70.