War and social media come out tops at Acre Festival 2013

The Best Production top prize, worth NIS 15,000 each, was shared by 'Pffffff' and 'My Facebook.'

Theater show Pffffff 370 (photo credit: Yohan Segev)
Theater show Pffffff 370
(photo credit: Yohan Segev)
The Acre Festival plays, largely created by the young and impassioned, are responses to the currents of our lives here. If last year’s plays appeared to mourn the betrayal of the high ideals and shared goals that buttressed the State of Israel, this year’s offerings were bleaker yet. The overriding themes were those of loss, abandonment, and the sort of existential despair that produced Theater of the Absurd after World War II.
The Best Production top prize, worth NIS 15,000 each, was shared by Pffffff and My Facebook.
Pffffff, written and directed by Ahaon Levin and Yaron Edelstein, is the story of an Israeli nuclear sub whose captain goes bananas and initiates “Pffffff,” a top-secret plan to nuke Iran. Efforts on the sub and in the cabinet – the bourekas on the table are a lovely touch among several – to avert the apocalypse are the meat of this often hilarious black comedy whose sharply defined characters congeal at the end into an amorphous mass. Going out further on its limb Pfffffff might have avoided that.
The virus that infiltrates Ina Eisenberg’s satirical but unfocused My Facebook is Jean Paul Sartre’s famous “Hell is other people,” a line from his play No Exit. One of the characters assumes his identity on Facebook because in reality he, like his friends, cannot communicate. The veneer of Facebook chat is the characters’ security blanket but as the country accelerates toward war, the characters must face the realities they have sought to escape. Facebook director Nohar Lazerovitch won best director.
The best playwright award, plus an NIS 3,000 scholarship, went to Alma Weich for her hard-hitting Price Tag, which also won best actor for Eyal Schecter and Eli Menashe playing father and son in a modern take on the biblical priest Eli and his vicious sons Hofni and Pinhas.
The modern Hofni leads Price Tag, the far right-wing settler movement that targets Arabs. The IDF has jailed Hofni (Menashe) for blowing up a mosque and its 100 or so worshipers. Hofni’s rants on Price Tag’s holy mission to rid Israel of its Arabs has, distressingly, more than a hint of Hitler’s early years, a perception buttressed by the growing numbers and violence of the mob clamoring for his release.
The captivating Fairytale provided its creators, directors and actresses with the best actress prize. Sigalit Fuchs and Yehudit Ginger present simply a sophisticated allegory on illusion, itself a metaphor for the way we live here.
“This is a story of passion, love and fate,” intones the narrator in English.
The character of Tina (Fuchs) equals illusion, and when she dies, so does it... and the actresses start squabbling in heated Hebrew. Lovely stuff.
“Obscene” today means indecent, disgusting or morally depraved. The word is taken from the Greek “obskena,” or “off stage,” which is where the indecent etc. events in Greek tragedy took place.
Offstage suggests that we are so inured to the obscene, that life is cheap, that we can watch it onstage. Winding through subterranean passages in the crusader fortress we see the coupling of Jocasta and Oedipus, Medea killing her kids, and so on.
The production, which doesn’t quite work because it leaves nothing to the imagination, won awards for its “conceptual daring” and “use of space.”
The above was some of Acre this year, but bleak or not, the crowds came and each of the 68 performances was SRO.
Artistic director Gil Alon said “I’m proud of the artistic atmosphere we created... and that at least once a year we can realize our dreams.”