Behind the scenes

The Jerusalem Theater has raised the curtain on a project offering children a look at what goes into making a show.

We all know the show must go on, but do we know exactly what's involved? The Jerusalem Theater has raised the curtain on a new project offering children (from age five) a look at the stories and secrets of life on the stage. The idea, by Ori Goldstein who is also artistic director, is to take the children on a journey through the parts of the theater most members of the audience never get to see. Naturally, the journey itself is a theatrical experience: starting as the children are greeted in the lobby by an actress and continuing on a magical, but comical, trail with stops on the way in such places as the dressing rooms and behind the stage curtains. It ends, of course, with a performance (of sorts): a show the children have seen take form from the script, to the wardrobe, voice training, props, lighting and so on. Reality and fantasy mix as the two actors - Hamutal Endi and Daniel Kishinovski - play character after character and even interact with a video pantomime (Kris Fayerovich). The behind the scenes trail takes about 80 minutes, during which the children can become involved choosing clothes for the princess; learning how to breathe properly when singing - Kishinovski's portrayal of the music teacher is inspired; working out how to set the stage; and - a part my seven-year-old enjoyed a lot - watching how the various stage lights and music can change the atmosphere. The plot, developed by writers Elinor Agam Ben-David, who is also the producer, and Gil Tsernovitch, is simple but allows the audience to be exposed to various styles of theater from pantomime and street theater to more serious genres. It all starts when Michal, who has always dreamed of becoming an actress, arrives at the Jerusalem Theater for a tour with the rest of the audience/participants and meets Bob Habamai - Bob the Director - who has just received bad news: His diva, Michaela Von Drama, has a fever and is unable to go on stage that evening to play the princess. This is Michal's big chance although she has never even heard the word "audition" before and Bob ("Oy va voy!") the Director has serious misgivings about offering the lead role to a bouncy girl with frizzy red hair and no experience at all. That is, of course, the cue for the children to learn along with Michal the various secrets and tricks of the trade. My son - no stranger to the world of amateur theater thanks to JEST (Jerusalem English-Speaking Theater) - had a great time rushing along corridors, reading notes, finding props and clothes and watching it all come together. When asked what he liked especially, he replied: "It was full of surprises." The kids on our tour, somewhat of a trial run held in the summer, generally seemed to enjoy themselves although some of the under-fives got scared in the dark. Some of the characters were a bit "over the top," with accents too heavy (the wardrobe lady was "Russian"; Moliere, the acting coach, oh-so-French, ouh la la; the stagehand American, etc.). Although it allowed the two actors to show their diversity and skill - and separate one role from the next - I found it annoying. The children, however, seemed to feel involved and left the theater in high spirits having learned something about the world and language of theater. This is not a bad thing at all in an age when most children don't even realize that movies can have real-life actors and not just irritating voices behind animated characters. "Masa bein haklaim" costs NIS 55 per person (NIS 45 for theater subscribers and certain other categories). More magical trips through the theater are planned for Purim: March 9, at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 4 p.m. Following the tour, children can participate in a workshop: "Dressing up objects." For more information, call 560-5755/57 or visit