A lion in the library

Children's theater reaches new heights in Holon.

Ron Pinkowitz (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ron Pinkowitz
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ron Pinkowitz begins his fourth season as artistic director of the Mediatheque Theater for Children and Youth in Holon by directing a play that teaches children life has rules that need to be obeyed, but there are times when logic demands rules be broken.
“Like the individual has a dream, the theater has a vision,” says Pinkowitz, who prior to his present position directed plays for adults. Previously he had only directed two plays for children, Max and Moritz and Utzli Gutzli – still on at the Cameri.
“The play [A Lion in the Library] is not a blockbuster production, there are no famous names, and it is not a shallow show, it is very profound, a piece of theater,” says Pinkowitz, whose current collaborators are all winners of the Israel Theater Prize for children’s theater.
The play is written in verse by Eli Bishawi, in an adaptation of the novel Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. “Eli is an upcoming star in translation and adaptation, very gifted,” says Pinkowitz. “His language will be part of the pleasure of the whole event. The literary level is not coincidence [given the trends of] these days. Other aspects as well, beginning with the characters and the plot of the novel, are quite unique and profound.”
Part of the vision at Mediatheque, he says, is to offer the experience of theater “to get children to go out of their space and away from their screens and that the experience they go through in the theater should be really meaningful. They should remember, when they are older, that ‘I saw something that really touched me.’”
Pinkowitz aims to “penetrate the child’s mind, his emotions, sense of beauty, musical sense, with original music suited to their age.” He wants to teach children “how to deal with text and context that are concrete and more abstract.”
He says he appreciates children’s understanding on other levels of perception. “Children, they have times without needing to make calculations, they need to feel with their spirit more than with their mind.” There is something spiritual in this experience, he says.
The plot of A Lion in the Library involves a library, rules, librarians, two children, a lion and the concept that “incredible things happen when you begin to read.”
“When I was first offered the job,” says Pinkowitz, “somehow – with either a great deal of chutzpah or else out of desperation – I said I had made compromises as a director, but that for children I would no longer do that, I would use only the most exclusive, best resources, in the same way as I want the best for my children.” He is no longer trying to please anyone, and it seems to be working, he says. He refrains from employing TV personalities in his plays, because, he says, “part of the vision is that I cannot agree to the fact that the child’s motivation to go to experience theater should be to get a signature.”
Pinkowitz makes a point of naming the members of his team: musical score by Ran Bagno, costumes and sets by Lili Ben-Nachshon, lighting by Keren Grenek; puppeteer Revital Arieli and six actors.
As the new repertory season is set to open with A Lion in the Library on February 1, Pinkowitz is hoping “for a long run and that it will be seen at other venues and by the education system; and peace in the Middle East.”