Austrian director rejects Cameri allegations

Theater claims damages caused during staging of Alma in suit against Paulus Manker.

paulus manker 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
paulus manker 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Cameri Theater has filed suit at the Tel Aviv District Court for NIS 524,000 in damages against Austrian producer and director Paulus Manker, citing among the rest, breach of contract and harm to the reputation and good name of the theater.
In 1996, Menker and Yehoshua Sobol, who have collaborated on a number of projects, created the multi-site Alma, a drama by Sobol, based on the life of Alma Mahler, that Menker directed. Last November, Alma played for some three weeks to packed houses at the Underground Museum in Jerusalem with both Israeli and European actors. The project was a collaboration between the Cameri Theater and Manker’s company, Alma Productions.
The suit, in part, alleges that the museum suffered “indescribable damage” and that the production decamped “secretly” following the last performance, leaving a littered museum and courtyard. Furthermore, the Cameri contends that the production neglected proper care of props, costumes and other equipment, sold extra tickets in violation of the sales agreement, pocketing the proceeds, arbitrarily canceled a performance without reimbursing the audience, abused the audience, the actors and the crew, and withheld museum entry fees.
For his part, in an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post Manker stated that the only notification of the intended lawsuit he has received to date was a summary he received from his representative in Israel.
In addition, Manker says that two years ago he himself filed suit for $90,000 against the Cameri for what he terms “no less than nine violations” of the contract on the production at the Cameri of iWitness in 2003, yet offered to “drop the case if the Cameri would help us putting together Alma.”
Menker rejects completely the suit’s allegations, citing what he calls hostility toward the production from the Cameri and the museum. In particular, regarding damage to the museum, Manker writes: “When Alma tried to empty and clean the museum after the last performance, my production people were banned from the ground, and the security of the Defense Ministry did not allow them to enter the premises anymore, neither to fetch our belongings nor to clean the rooms.”
Moreover, far from the being an arbitrary move, the cancellation of the production came because, after some 10 performances, the museum management suddenly prohibited the use of a historic truck – an incident which Yehoshua Sobol corroborates.
Sobol also says that in order to be allowed use of the space, he was forced to make changes to the script which management deemed offensive. Relationships between Manker and management were “very tense” as a result.
Museum head Yoram Tamir did not immediately reply to a request for clarification.
A suit and a counter suit can reasonably be construed as a mutual grudge. Let’s hope civility wins the day.