Cheek rouged, tongue in

Come and associate with the ideals of feminism - or just have a good time - at the International Women's Festival.

sandra bernhard  248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
sandra bernhard 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The theme of this year's Holon International Women's Festival (February 23-28) is female humor. In its thirteenth year and timed to coincide with International Women's Day, the festival features cabaret, comedy, exhibits, movies, panels and more. Having assembled Israeli and international talents from a variety of disciplines, the event's planners have put them together in some most interesting ways. For example, Aya Korem, Efrat Gosh, Emily Karpal and Anya Bukstein have joined to form an all-female incarnation of the classic Israeli band Kaveret, whose punchy hits are as endemic to Israeli culture as is the disgustingly delicious treat Krembo. And writer Sharon Langer offers a fresh take on relationships and arduous grooming rituals in her performance of excerpts from her book of poetry, entitled One Day, Barbie's Breasts Will Sag. The Israeli Museum of Caricature and Comics features an exhibit by Liza Donnelly, a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker. Ms. Donnelly deals with sexism in her pithy, quietly provocative cartoons - but don't call her a feminist. The cartoonist, who also teaches courses in Gender Studies at Vassar College, prefers to raise issues non-confrontationally "because the important thing is that people keep listening. Humor, she says, is a great way to discuss difficult subjects." In contrast, this year's guest of honor is comedian Sandra Bernhard, someone who has no problem offending anyone. She's been intelligently satirizing hypocrisy since the '70s. Ms. Bernhard sounds like a professor expounding on new trends in feminism on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and like a drunken sailor going off on a rant about Sarah Palin in a routine given at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. For the latter, red-faced Bernhard issues presumably empty threats on the former-candidate's life, punctuated by long strings of expletives. Regardless of incarnation, she can be reliably expected to shock, provoke, and reduce her audience to tears of laughter with Sandra's Show, which she'll perform here. Non-celebrities also contribute to the dialogue. In her one-woman show, Tehilah Yashahu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, explores her feelings of being stranded between two cultures. She addresses her marginalization by Israeli society as an Ethiopian woman, and by Ethiopian society as a divorcee, in a monologue that is alternately witty, sad and uplifting. For tickets, visit the Holon Theater website or call (03) 502-3019.