Isra-Drama promotes international cooperation through Israeli theater

The annual festival introduces some 200 viewers from across the globe to the new theatrical works in Israel.

DAVID GROSSMAN (left) and Joshua Sobol. (photo credit: LEE-YAM FOLMAN AND EDNA SOBOL)
DAVID GROSSMAN (left) and Joshua Sobol.
 Isra-Drama is launching at the end of the month with three days of performances, hosting some of the country’s biggest creators and performers for a number of shows and bringing along some 200 theater and festival managers from 25 countries throughout the world to spectate and participate.
The festival’s performances were pre-filmed and will be premiered over the course of three days, attended by some of Israel’s leaders in the field such as Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper, internationally-acclaimed author David Grossman, Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol and more.
Throughout November 26-28, the annual event – the entirety of which will be spoken in English – will host 17 performances out of 70 that were submitted to the artistic committee of the festival. The performances will be available to attendees virtually, and throughout the three festival days, panels will take place on gender issues, adaptations of literary works to the stage, Israel’s internationally-recognized hits and a discussion of the work of Hanoch Levin.
 The festival intends to expose the international stage to Israel’s movers and shakers in the world of theater, in order to encourage them to produce Israeli plays throughout the world and to advance cooperation between cultures.
“Until now, some 150 people would come here, stay in hotels, meet for symposiums, see performances,” Noam Semel, the creator of the Isra-Dance event and Habimah Theater CEO, told The Jerusalem Post. “I brought all of the people I know from around the world to meet on Zoom. I believe our program is attractive.”
“The international exposure of the Isra-Drama event with the support of the Culture and Sport Ministry is undoubtedly an important even for the State of Israel and for Israeli culture,” Tropper said. “In the complex time we are in, it is important to mention that culture creates community and community creates culture. Our theaters and festivals in Israel are some of the best quality in the world. The advancement of cooperations between cultures is an event that contributes greatly to Israeli culture and society.”
The project was largely created in the hands of the Hanoch Levin Institute for Israeli Drama, which was established by Semel in 2000 in order to promote Israeli theater and drama around the world. It works to translate original Israeli plays and initiates productions of said plays abroad.
“When I created the Hanoch Levin Institute for Israeli Drama, I could not have dreamed that 20 years later, the international symposium would be on something like Zoom,” Semel said. “Who could predict such a thing? The Israeli world of culture and arts will always stay around, no matter what; no matter how much the world changes, no matter if [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] stays or goes.”
So far, members of theater communities abroad are participating from Europe, Asia, South America, North America and Africa. The performances which will be broadcast come from the biggest theaters throughout the country, including Habimah Theater, Cameri Theater, Beit Liessin, The Hebrew-Arabic Jaffa Theater, The Interdisciplinary Arena, Gesher Theater and more.