'Baldy Heights' returns to the stage

Parents in the audience are likely to delight in the fun of Kidon's play as much as their children.

baldy heights 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
baldy heights 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Ma'ale Karachot ("Baldy Heights") takes the stage at this year's Yalduti festival on April 16-17 in Tel Aviv, parents in the audience are likely to delight in the fun as much as their children. This is the fourth time Ephraim Kidon's play, which is based on his book, will be produced. Ma'ale Karachot is about a village of bald people who have never seen a hair in their lives. The satirical play focuses on the village's mayor, who one day finds a hair on his head, and tries to lie his way out of it. "You could say this is a holiday classic," Kidon, one of the country's best-known satirists, told The Jerusalem Post. "The staging of this show has returned for a fourth time, and now for a new generation. The stories are for adults as well as for children." This year's production by the Orna Porat National Theater for Children and Youth is entirely new. Up-to-the-minute costumes have been sewn for the show, fresh sets have been erected, a new musical score has been drawn up, and original choreography has been created. "The story is the same, but the play has been updated. For example, in the 1980s, the reporter had a notebook. In the second rendition he had a tape recorder, today he has a mobile phone and can send SMS messages," says Kidon. "At first he was a reporter for a newspaper, then for the radio, and now he's a TV journalist." The play is presented in rhyming couplets. This year, the actors also perform in rap. "It's amazing to see how much the children like the verse as well as the play on words," says Kidon. Dumbing down theater for children is not a trend Kidon follows. Not only is the language of a high level, but the plot includes political and social twists. "I'm sure the children will understand the message I want to get across. Children do not live in a bubble, but rather know what's going on in society. They are exposed to the reality of life and its social and political problems. And while the first staging of the play was 25 years ago, the message still rings true today: that everyone deserves to be treated equally," he says. Kidon compares his book by the same name to the play. "In terms of imagination, in the book there was more that I could write about that you can't show on stage. In the book there are oversized birds, and huge fires, and hair tricks. Each reader could imagine things as he felt they should be," he says. "The play is different from the book, but not inferior. On the one hand, the audience sees the characters as the director choses to present them. In the play there's depth to the characters, there are feelings of love and other relationships that don't exist in the book." Ma'ale Karachot is directed by Tzipi Pines. Actors include Motti Katz, Robert Henig, Yael Amit, Niv Raz, Erez Weiss, Noa Perto, Yonatan Paz Boganim, Shimrit Sason and Tal Yirmi. Henig has appeared in all four productions of Ma'ale Karachot and Katz started out as one of the young men in the show and today plays the Mayor. Asked what he hopes people will learn from the show, Kidon reiterates that it is "most important to see everyone as an equal. Unfortunately our society today is still filled with hatred, jealousy, racism, and prejudice. The play shows that it doesn't matter if one has slanted eyes or different color hair, it doesn't make one more or less smart." Ma'ale Karachot is aimed at ages five and up. The play will be performed at the Yalduti Dance and Theater Festival at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv on April 16-17. For tickets/information, call: (03) 510 5656.