Fringe is in: The annual Tmuna Festival gets under way in Tel Aviv

Tmuna will have another European invasion, this time by German artists.

'Ravemachine' by Doris-Uhlich (photo credit: PETER-EMPL)
'Ravemachine' by Doris-Uhlich
(photo credit: PETER-EMPL)
Often, in conversations with family and friends who live outside of the fringe arts community, the question of becoming mainstream comes up. Isn’t it easier to sustain oneself once one has gone in a more commercial direction? Isn’t maintaining an audience and a livelihood nearly impossible when operating outside of the established channels for arts and culture? The truth is that yes, artists working independently and without the support of major institutions do have a harder time making ends meet. And yes, mainstream arts outlets do attract larger numbers of audiences and bring in more exposure. And yet, the fringe hangs on.
In the case of Tmuna Theater, this past year has been a great example of why the fringe must hang on. While the south Tel Aviv art space has made a name for itself as an alternative purveyor of theater, dance and music, in recent months, with the closing of many of the larger institutions in town, Tmuna has become the go-to venue for culture. From the unprecedented crowds at the Intimadance Festival to sold-out performances throughout each month, Tmuna’s beacon has been growing stronger.
This weekend, Nitzan Cohen and Nava Zukerman, artistic directors of the space, will reveal their biggest annual project, the highly anticipated Tmuna Festival. The program for this year’s festival spans a little over two weeks and features cutting-edge performances by Israeli and foreign artists in a variety of fields.
The festival will kick off on Monday night with the 30th anniversary celebration of Musica Nova. Established in 1986, this collective of Tel Aviv-based experimental musicians has produced some of Israel’s most ground-breaking compositions. The performance at Tmuna will feature three world premieres by Musica Nova members Shira Legmann, Maayan Tzdaka and Assaf Shatil, as well as three existing creations by Nomi Epstein, David Tudor and Akvin Lucier.
On Tuesday night, the “Polish Invasion” will begin. The evening consists of music, photography, dance and performance by Poland’s most up-and-coming fringe artists. Dancer Ramona Nagabczynska will perform pUre, a solo exploration of seminal Polish director Tadeusz Kantor’s concept of ur-matter, a pre-theatrical illusionary space. Another of Poland’s treasures, Agata Siniarska, will present The Soft Act of Killing, a painful and poignant look at action and reaction in today’s chaotic world. Vala Tanz is an unconventional and challenging artist. In his performance, Notes on Ness, Love and Other Stuff, he broaches the concepts of gender and sexuality while engaging deeply with the audience. The evening will also include performances by VJ Alexandra Gronholz and DJ Justina.
Over the weekend, Tmuna will have another European invasion, this time by German artists. In the performance Just in Time, duo Kattrin Deufert and Thomas Plischke request of their audience to compose love letters to the dance form. Once they have assembled the messages, in which each writer describes his or her most beloved movements, Deufert and Plischke will hold a ball devoted to those steps. This process began in 2016 in Berlin and has tracked its way through New York and now Tel Aviv. The letters will be published in 2018.
From Austria, choreographer and performer Doris Uhlich will present a new work titled Rave Machine. Together with dancer/choreographer Michael Toransky, Uhlich invokes electronic music to push the body to its limits.
Israeli performances to take part in the festival include Merav Dagan and Stav Marin’s Come Closer; Meital Raz and Lee Meir’s Playdead; the world premiere of Oded Ronen’s Capsule; Nava Zukerman’s Hamlet Machine; Nitzan Cohen’s take on Diary of a Madman; Avi Kaiser and Sergio Antonino’s Nof 2; Anat Danieli’s Anavagana; Noam Gil’s murder mystery Suspicious Incident; Adva Yirmiyahu’s Ma; a screening of Amos Gitai’s film West of the Jordan River; and more.
The Tmuna Festival will take place from October 23 through November 7 in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit