The Nectar of Gods

The first ever Haifa Fringe Festival presents ACT 2, a celebration of theater and performance in Israel.

haifa festival 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
haifa festival 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It's time to stock-up on heavy leather pouches of wine and oversized chicken legs because the Greek God Dionysus is bringing his intoxicating frenzy to Haifa. For three days, a pantheon of stages will be lined with comedies, tragedies and everything in-between, as the first ever Haifa Fringe Festival presents ACT 2, a celebration of theater and performance in Israel. Created by Niv Cohen, manager of the Studio Theater in Haifa, ACT 2 will thrust budding playwrights onto center-stage, giving them a unique occasion to show the nation what they've got. "I think it's a great opportunity for young playwrights," remarked writer/director Leon Leibshitz. Of 120 total submissions, just 11 new plays, written especially for the Festival by unknown and upcoming playwrights from across the country, were chosen. Leibshitz, who recently returned from stays in San Francisco, New York and Moscow, noted that it's extremely difficult for younger writers to get a break in the industry. Festivals, he points out, are the perfect place to showcase young talent. "It's very hard for a no-name to go to a theater and get a reply," Leibshitz said in a telephone interview from his car while driving to rehearsals. Aside from Cohen, two other secret judges will roam the fairgrounds, scoping out plays and surreptitiously judging contestants, undoubtedly giving rise to nervous jitters and pukey butterflies amongst them. But, three judges only count for 30% of total voting with the other 70% in the hands of the general audience. And, like a modern day Euripides, just one playwright will be victorious at the festival's close. The prize at stake is a hefty NIS 50,000 to be awarded by the Haifa Culture Fund. Liebshitz says that he and his actors have been rehearsing for two months. He's pretty excited, for sure, and even admits to spending weekends in Haifa to hang up posters around various neighborhoods. ACT 2 runs from June 15 to 17 at the Hecht House and Haifa Cinematheque. For more information call (04) 838-4777 or visit