Powerful theater magic in time of coronavirus

Mystorin Theater reinvents itself in ‘Uncaged’ to create art during an age of social distancing

Using six actors based at different locations, animation and music, viewers of Uncaged will see one possible future of the art of theater during the pandemic. (photo credit: COURTESY OF MYSTORIN THEATER GROUP)
Using six actors based at different locations, animation and music, viewers of Uncaged will see one possible future of the art of theater during the pandemic.
How to keep theater alive during a time of social distancing?
In Uncaged, Mystorin Theater takes the common event of a man being put on unpaid leave and using multiscreens, animation and live actors to engage the audience watching from home to avoid the coronavirus
This innovative production is a far cry from what many theaters and concert halls are currently doing, which is airing a taped production as if it were a movie.  
With six actors performing in real time from six different locations, home viewers will take part in an exciting story of suspense, with surprising plot twists!
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Mystorin artistic director Yulia Ginis explains that while the show is not interactive, viewers are asked to mute their microphones and cameras. Some forget – and the show becomes interactive without meaning to be.
“The first performance took place last week,” she said, “so for starters, we wanted to see that it works and later to take it to the interactive option [with future shows].”
Unlike other theaters, Mystorin does not work from an existing play or novel but shapes the entire show in a collective effort that all actors, as well as the musicians, engage in. 
“Everyone is taking part in this polyphony,” Ginis explains, crediting her partner in writing and directing, Raz Weiner, for his contribution to the process. “Many actors who take part in Uncaged have been working together since 2009, meaning they can rely on a solid decade of shared experience.”
Established in 2006, Mystorin points to the ancient Greek mysteries as an inspiration source in its very name. Shrouded in secrecy, known only to the hierophants, precious little is known about the Eleusinian Mysteries. Yet, it is possible that the dramatic and artistic search for meaning folded within these arcane rites inspired Greek theater and, eventually, gave birth to the great dramatic forms of its Western descendant.
When the Greeks flocked to the theater, it was to go through a collective experience. Plays were written in response to real-time major events. Lysistrata by Aristophanes was presented after the Peloponnesian War; the fictional character of Dror Avivi in Uncaged functions during a pandemic he cannot control. Will he obey the powers that be, or decide to act against them?  
While videos were incorporated into many theatrical shows during past decades, it is always a challenge to mix different mediums to stage a show. “One needs to be highly attuned to the limitations of these different mediums and how they function together,” Ginis says, pointing out that the audience too must be thought of. What are the people willing to do to see a show? During the Nazi occupation of Poland, theater director Tadeusz Kantor placed a sign outside the venue saying “anyone caught here might be murdered [by the Germans].” What are modern audiences willing to risk?   
Mystorin presented a show inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy in its Tel Aviv performance Seven at the central station, introduced hassidic songs and music to the heart of Krakow in Baalei Shem at the KTO Street Theater Festival and even brought Jewish culture to Burkina Faso where it played Tsar Tzura. 
The names crafted for the shows, Baalei Shem – those who have the [divine] name and can work wonders through this secret knowledge – and Tsar Tzura – the being that forms shapes – are not accidental.
Born in Moscow in what was then the USSR, Ginis was brought up as a Jewish girl in a culture that was far from hospitable to Jewish ideas or to Zionism. 
She came to Israel at the age of 16 and studied at the School of Visual Theatre in Jerusalem – where she learned how to make her artistic visions come to life with people and sets on the stage,
It was a change from her previous artistic career as a painter in pastels. As a painter, she fashioned an unusual multilayered painting technique. She still paints today using oil-based colors.
Unlike other theater groups that put their actors on unpaid leave, the group continues to pay its actors. The audience is invited to pay admission and take part via Zoom in a unique theatrical experiment, and be enlightened.
Uncaged will be performed on May 3 and May 7 at 10 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased via the link: https://mystorin.com/uncaged/ . The show is entirely in Hebrew.