Violence is the theme of this year's Tzavta Theater festival in Tel Aviv which runs December 23 through December 26. Artistic director Shalom Shmuelov said he did not choose this theme - it chose itself. "The subject is very intelligent. It doesn't give us answers. It's a test for everyone," said Shmuelov. He believes that violence has seeped into our psyches; it is an aftershock of a violent past. The performances are thought provoking, but "not a magic solution," as Shmuelov put it. The festival will consist of seven original explorative plays by talented young directors. The works raise questions about the systems of life, the balance of power in family and society, the difficulty of distinguishing between good and evil and of violence. Shmuelov is particularly excited that this year's performances include two musicals - something the festival has never attempted. One is the operetta Hajiljul, based on The Metamorphosis by Kafka. The other is Michal, based on the story of King David and his wife Michal, 20 years after the bible ceases to tell their story. It stars Michal Chazon, Yael Dalal, and Moriah Zerachia. Other plays include There's Nothing Like Family, a tragic comedy by playwright Maor Haroosh. It is the story of Tikva and Baruch, who have been married 30 years. Tikva stays in this marriage for her son. Haroosh told the Jerusalem Post in a recent interview, that he has always been interested in people's problems. Through years of listening, he's come to understand the toll family takes on a person. "And I noticed that the family has a lot of influence on our choices; our career; things to do and not to do. Based on things we learn in the family, we decide to marry or not to marry. I wanted to explore these ideas through the play," Haroosh explained. In the play, Haroosh explores the idea of emotional blackmail. Tikva causes Eran to think that if he leaves, everything will fall apart. When he meets a beautiful woman, he has big decision to make. Even though the father is quiet, there is room for interpretation, said Haroosh. "He is a loud quiet. You can judge him, or you can say, 'maybe he sacrificed a lot of things to stay in the family.'" Haroosh describes the play as a "comedy with lots of emotional moments." He wants the audience to cry and laugh and is very interested to see their reactions. For more info visit www.tzavta.co.il or call Tzavta box office at (03) 695-0156. Tickets are NIS 90.