Gesher marks 20 years of excellence in new season

Once everybody's darling, Gesher Theater is now "just another" Israeli theater company struggling to stay in business balancing the cutting edge with audience-pleasing material.

Theater.311 (photo credit: Nathan Brusovany)
(photo credit: Nathan Brusovany)
In May 1991 local critics shook forth streamers of superlatives. Most of Israel’s theater world gasped, and many slowly went pea-greenly jealous. Why? Five words: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
The production of Tom Stoppard’s brilliant play – given at Habima – was performed in Russian by a bunch of immigrant actors led by one Yevgeny Arye, and banded into a group called the Gesher Theater.
Then they were everybody’s darling, singled out, pampered, courted and praised. Their productions won national and international kudos. They were even named one of the six best theater companies in the world.
That was then.
Today Gesher is “just another” Israeli theater company struggling to stay in business like all the rest, so it has to balance the audience-pleasers with the eager, cutting-edge theatrical adventuring that has first place in Arye’s heart.
Therefore, the theater’s 20th anniversary season has a bit of both. There are two mainstage Arye productions, one of which ends this season. It is Gogol’s always-relevant satire on corruption, The Inspector General or Revizor that stars new Gesher company member Dvir Bendek as Mayor Dmukhanovsky, with Alon Friedman as government clerk Khlestakov. It opens July 12.
The other, a co-production with the 2011 Israel Festival, is Hanoch Levin’s The Emperor Gok that traces Gok’s life from birth to death, a tragedy that becomes comedy, like life, and a recurrent Levin theme. It will have its world premiere in June 2011.
The New York Post called the saucy, witty I Love You, You'’e Perfect, Now Change “a battle of the heterosexes.” It played off-Broadway from 1996 to 2008 and will open the season at Gesher in October in a Hebrew translation by Daniel Efrat. The book and lyrics are by Joe DiPietro and the music by Jimmy Roberts.
There’s a Kreutzer Sonata at Gesher as well as at Haifa. UK playwright Nancy Harris has adapted the Tolstoy classic, and Moshe Ivgi stars as the obsessively jealous husband.(November 2010). In March of 2011 there’s another adaptation – this one by the very gifted Gur Koren of J. B. Priestly’s Time and the Conways – which is transposed to Israel between 1970 and 1983, including the aftermath of the Lebanon War. The family is called Nayschuler.
Bulgarian director Alexander Morfov will also direct The Tempest with Israel (Sasha) Demidov as Prospero.
“Just another” Israeli theater, but not quite, Gesher has acquired a raft of Israeli actors over the years, like Ivgi, Hanna Laszlo and Lucy Dubintchik. Gesher actors, proficient now in the Hebrew now so painfully acquired, have spread their wings, like the incomparable Yevgenia Dodina, now at Habima. It is training a Young Gesher complement whose work will be shown July 15-17 at the official launch of the Hangar space. And always, always, a Gesher production is still not afraid to fail.