Habimah theater plays over UK boycott

Israel's nat'l theater will perform a series of staged readings at the Royal National Theatre in London.

habimah theater 88 (photo credit: )
habimah theater 88
(photo credit: )
Despite the various calls in Britain to boycott Israel, Habimah, the national theater of Israel, has been invited to perform at the prestigious Royal National Theatre in London in October. The Israeli actors will perform a series of staged play readings and take part in panel discussions and workshops with five leading Israeli playwrights whose plays will be showcased during the three-day event, entitled "Conflicts and Confrontations." The exchange will be followed by a visit to Israel by their British colleagues in February. Most of the plays focus on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Hebron, by Tamir Greenberg, raises the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a mythological level and You and Me and the Next War, by the late Hanoch Levin, is a satirical cabaret about the Six Day War. The Guide to the Good Life, by Yael Ronen, is about Israeli youth after their military service. Ilan Hatsor's The Masked is a family drama about three Palestinian brothers: one is a "collaborator" with Israel, one fights against the Jewish state and the third is torn between the two. Spitting Distance, by Taher Najib, uses the protest against military occupation to give voice to a playwright's search for his identity. "The plays represent a range of voices from two peoples caught in a bloody embrace. Common to all of them is the theme of occupation which turns both Palestinians and Israelis into its victims. Occupation becomes a metaphor for life appropriated by authority, religion, social tradition and nationalism, when personal identity is constantly under threat," according to the Royal National Theatre. Discussions will take place on the plays and the social and political context in which they were written, as well on the state of Israeli theater. Habimah artistic director Ilan Ronen will be in London in August to help prepare the program that begins on October 8. The plays are supported by the Israeli Embassy in London and the British Israeli Arts Training Scheme (BI-ARTS), an exchange project providing opportunities for both Israeli and British artists that is funded by the British Council and Israel's Foreign and Science, Technology, Culture and Sport ministries. Founded in 1963 and situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, the National consists of three permanent theaters - the large open-stage Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Cottesloe, a small studio theater - together they seat nearly 2,500 people. Habimah was founded in Moscow in 1917 and was one of the first Hebrew-language theaters. Its mission was to represent Jewish culture and lead the renaissance of Hebrew language and culture. In the mid-1920s the company left the Soviet Union for good and moved permanently to Tel Aviv in 1945.