The four-day Acre Festival abounds with thought-provoking plays and a host of music, dance and street theater performances.
By HELEN KAYE
The 31st Acre Festival of Alternative Theater is so called because “alternative” is its purpose. It seeks to offer new theatrical languages for familiar themes or explore a totally different take on them.It’s characterized by daring and sometimes by truly original thinking for which “the festival is an artistic framework,” declare artistic directors Smadar Ya’aron and Moni Yosef.“Now more than ever, we have to ask to what extent art can influence reality, especially our reality that is so complex,” they observe.This year’s Acre Festival takes place in and around the Crusader Fortress in the Old City from September 26 – 29. There are nine plays in competition, as well as five more called Acre 2 that didn’t quite make the competition cut but that the artistic committee felt deserved producing. There are productions from abroad, a slew of street theater, special projects, guest productions/installations, music and dance.Among the nine competition plays, one of the top contenders is likely to be The Family Table, a three-hour multi-layered work by the iconoclastic David (Dudu) Ma’ayan, whose 1980 winning festival play, Arbeit Macht Frei, has entered Israeli theatrical legend. His new play takes eight different groups of people through the alleyways of Acre’s Old City and brings them together around a huge dining table.What happens when ideals and ideologies clash? An Austrian/Israeli collaboration seeks answers in Response to a Letter My Father Never Wrote Me, written and directed by Austria’s Markus Kupferblum, together with his Israeli cousin, Pablo Ariel.Then there’s Eran Tobol’s wacky Vlüvenbach und Züfenheim: Re-education (hint: everybody’s wearing a funny little mustache) and Holocaust-Lite, Roby Edelman’s cheeky and political “Don’t worry! Be happy!” take on Israeli reality.Acre 2 plays include Circus Y – Carabina, an aerial tale in five acts, and Schweigeminute dedicated to the writer’s Grandma Rachel, a survivor who “knew how to love in German, Hebrew and in her own special language.”From Switzerland comes The Bus. You ride in one for a thriller, with an Israeli component, about religiosity and faith; clown Laura Herts has her One Woman Show, whose heroine is called Gladys. Gladys appears again with French clown Olivier Bour for their street theater presentation In the HertsBourg.And while we’re on street theater, there are 17 premieres, one of which is a local/Croatian collaboration called Via Dolorosa Now.There are also street theater shows from Romania, Spain, Germany, Slovenia and Holland – and they’re all free.Three of the Arabic language monodrama plays from the recent Masrahid festival will be guests at Acre, as will Amun Chavo, an installation by artist Iman Abu Hamid dedicated to her grandmother, not to mention political cabaret or circus-type shows, which are also free. There’s music on the lawn inside the festival complex, and the dance includes Arnika by Noa Dar.For more information on the festival, visit www.accofestival.co.il.
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