Ghost in the shell

Visual theater comes to life at the Clipa Aduma Festival.

311_Clipa Aduma (photo credit: Anya Bondarenko)
311_Clipa Aduma
(photo credit: Anya Bondarenko)
They met 17 years ago in Amsterdam – Israeli born dancer/designer Idit Herman and Derevo avant-garde theater actor/musician Dmitry Tulpanov from St. Petersburg. After two years of performances throughout Europe, Herman decided to bring her friend to her homeland, “to show him the place where it really happens.”
But although Israel never disappears from international headlines, visual theater – the field to which both were drawn – was not really on the local agenda.
“When performing in Amsterdam clubs, I always knew that the audience picked up my every tiny gesture. This is not what was happening at our early shows in Tel Aviv,” says Tulpanov.
Not that it stopped the couple. They inaugurated Clipa, their own visual theater, which has been attracting young and talented artists from Israel and abroad. After years of wandering, the ensemble, which soon won the reputation of being one of the country’s most intriguing fringe groups, has finally found a home. It’s also launched an international festival in Tel Aviv – Clipa Aduma – whose fourth edition runs July 15-31.
“The idea behind the festival is to advance visual theater in Israel,” says Herman, Clipa Aduma’s artistic director, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. ”This is a true boutique festival. I’ve chosen only four groups from abroad, each representing another facet of the theater in which the visual aspect plays the key role and tells the story. Regretfully, there are no more than 40 ensembles of the kind in the field of visual theater in the entire world that meet top standards – we host only really groundbreaking artists.”
Among the shows coming to Tel Aviv are A Dance Tribute to the Art of Football, by Jo Stromgren Company from Norway, which questions the statement that soccer, as opposed to dance, is a low-brow art for the masses. The French puppeteer Ezéquiel Garcia-Romeu brings Aberrations of a Librarian, a puppet show for adults about a puppeteer who, locked in his library, tries to discover the secrets of Creation.
“The puppeteer not only operates the puppets, but participates in the show,” explains Herman, pointing out that the oldest member of the ensemble is 87 years old.
THE CHAMBER Music Theater from Germany presents “a genre never seen here before,” says Herman – “music on the table.” The piece, performed by three classically trained musicians, is inspired by Shockheaded Peter, a classic children’s story.
The La Tempest company (Chile/Korea) will perform Sisyphus Rock, which is inspired by both the myth of Sisyphus and the writings of Albert Camus. The piece is the result of the collaboration between Chilean choreographer Elias Cohen and Korean video artist Chan Sook Choi.
There will also be 14 Israeli works premiering this year.
Two of them, Jonah 2010, by Elian Valaji, and Glory Monster, by Herman, are full-length works. The others will be presented in programs of shorter works.
“This year, about 50 local artists proposed pieces for the festival – many of them were excellent. This makes me happy,” says Herman. “Four years ago people did not really know what visual theater is about and offered dance or dramatic shows.”
After 15 years of activity, does she feel that the things have changed here? “Interestingly enough, the major change was caused by our kids’ shows – and we work with the kids a lot, because it is necessary to nurture the new generation of theater goers. Granted, it will take time, but since kids come with their parents, the latter also discover our adult shows, which has brought many new spectators to our theater.
“But it isn’t simple,” she admits. “Looking back, I feel like we are carving a statue from a huge, huge stone.”

The festival features shows and workshops at the Clipa Theater, Rehov Harakevet 38, Tel Aviv, and at the NaLaga’at Center at the Jaffa port. For details: For reservations: (03) 639-9090.