Festival showcases 4-year-old Na Laga'at venture

The Na Laga’at (please touch) Center at Jaffa Port has been a thriving going concern since 2017.

 CURTAIN-RAISER 'Ad Sheyikateff Hatapuach' (Until the Apple is Picked). (photo credit: BENNY GAMZU-LETOVA)
CURTAIN-RAISER 'Ad Sheyikateff Hatapuach' (Until the Apple is Picked).
(photo credit: BENNY GAMZU-LETOVA)

The Na Laga’at Groundbreaking Arts Festival is an occasion to be savored. 

Okay, so every festival, by definition, offers something to smile about, but this event, which starts Tuesday and runs through to Saturday night, celebrates the achievements and potential of members of our society who are frequently considered inferior or, at best, disadvantaged.

The Na Laga’at Center at Jaffa Port has been a thriving going concern since 2017, after almost two decades of a peripatetic existence. This week’s festival shows just how far the venture has progressed over the years with the program taking in seven theatrical and musical shows, a panel discussion, an arts and crafts fair with items made by people with physical disabilities, and even a beer-tasting workshop. 

The latter and the closing show, featuring iconic rocker Shalom Hanoch, will be enjoyed by participants and audiences in the dark, offering some idea of what the visually impaired experience every day of their lives. Hanoch’s appearance at the festival is a clear indication of the esteem in which the nonprofit is held by the cultural community as a whole.

The opening date of the festival was chosen to coincide with International Day for Tolerance, and the organizers says the multidisciplinary cultural happening “invites the public to experience culture, from visually and hearing-impaired people, in a non-routine way.”

Annalynne McCord, Holly Robinson Peete at Na Lagaat 185 (credit: America's Voices for Israel)Annalynne McCord, Holly Robinson Peete at Na Lagaat 185 (credit: America's Voices for Israel)

The curtain raiser (November 16, 8:30 p.m.) is a particularly emotive play called Ad Sheyikateff Hatapuach (Until the Apple Is Picked), written by Yosefa Even Shoshan and Emmanuel Pinto. The storyline follows the trials and tribulations, as well as joys and revelations of a mother and daughter who are separated in trying circumstances but each finds her individual pathway through life.

There is plenty in the way of left-field presentation, on pertinent topics, throughout the five-day agenda. The stand-up show by visually impaired comic Gaston Druger, suitably called Not In Focus, will be performed in complete darkness, and the Begova Einayim Shaveh (On An Equal Footing) playback theater show will address such poignant subjects as being outcast by our surroundings, and challenging institutions that try to belittle those they consider different from the norm. The playback troupe includes seeing, visually impaired and blind actors.

The Tagidee Tapuz (Say Orange) monodrama, by blind-deaf actress Batsheva Malka Bar-Natan raises a range of existential issues. The performance will be followed by a panel session with thespians and directors who will discuss such topics as theatrical arts, deafness, blindness, motherhood and success.

And if you are feeling a little parched in midstream, the beer workshop, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, will enlighten participants about a whole host of alcohol-related areas, and features beer tasting in total darkness. Cheers.

For tickets and more information: (nalagaat.org.il)