In September, 2011, a group of artists went on a journey into 20th century Europe in a search for artists who weren’t able to see the sun anymore. This journey gave birth to a project founded in new writing, personal and documentary materials.
Within the real and imagined reality, the group members, expatriates in their own land, found that even without a firing squad they had to venture far from their home country in order to see the sun.
This piece deals with artists encounter with the society in which they live and work (Heinrich Heine, Federico Garcia Lorca, Robert Capa, Albert Camus and Leni Riefenstahl) and in the convergence of a work of art and its context. More than anything, though, it is a piece about the conflict between actors—the artists of theatre—and a play—the art of theatre—whose existence fully depends on an audience, a space and a political context.
The project ends with the biography of a Palestinian actor, who is an exile in his own country- In that moment, all borders between reality and theatre are getting a new meaning.
The Work Process
The first phase of work was composed of the reading of documentary materials, including documents, letters, biographies and autobiographies of about 10 artists, all of whom answer a similar criterion: their life and art had created a deep conflict between artistic freedom and personal liberty and their dependence on the government and society in which they lived.
In the second phase, artists were chosen whose personal story was deemed fitting for the stage, and whose art could serve as inspiration for the group members, mainly in the arts of poetry, photography and theatre.
While this research took place, playwright Gilad Evron and director Ofira Henig began writing texts that provided relevant perspective for the aforementioned conflict.
At this point in the work process, translators joined in, translating the documentary texts, as well as a group of actors who dealt with the different genres of the writing.
The final phase was a workshop (which took place in February, 2012) for the entire artist group. Issues of editing and dramaturgy were reviewed, and physical and visual images were incorporated into the text.
Rehearsals begin: July, 2012. Presentation of a work in progress: September 26th&27th, Liechtenstein.
The text in this project is based on personal conscientious writing, dramatic writing and documentary texts.
The meeting of the actors and the text has created different and interesting relationships between the actors and their characters lines. The actors dealt with different acting disciplines: reading, representation, realistic acting, movement and image and the transfer from one language to the next.
The integration of different types of text created a fascinating texture of post-dramatic, fragmentary theatre.
There is no single narrative here. Rather, there are several narratives told in different ways, and they are brought together to form the project’s overall narrative.
The Artist Group
The group members have been working together for about 20 years in different capacities.
They hail from conventional, as well as visual theatre, and share a world view which focuses on the creation of art and the search for language as well as on the political context in which they are performed.
About 18 months ago, these group members were part of a protest movement which refused to perform in the occupied territories in Israel. This protest led to an upheaval in the world of Israeli theatre.
The group has performed an adaptation of Klaus Mann’s book, Mephisto. The adaptation was based on documentary texts by Mann and actor Gustaf Gründgens.
Audiences have steered clear of the group’s shows, then performed as part of the Herzliya Ensemble Theatre, and a year later artistic director Ofira Henig was fired by the public management and the city’s mayor, and some of the actors and writers left with her in protest.
This project is a continuation and development of the idea behind the adaptation of Mephisto. More than anything, though, it is an insistence on searching for an artistic language and adhering to it as a platform for the discussion of social and political issues.
The project deals with a space in which an imagined and a real reality coexist. The space is simple and exposed, almost Spartan, as a way of examining Fascist aesthetics, but also as part of an attitude allowing the group to move between spaces while adapting to each area – a nomad troop without a permanent home.
The work constantly inspects the connection between actor and text, revealing actors’ movement and personal consciousness. The actors shift between their historical characters and their present, personal reality.
The project is based in Hebrew texts with the incorporation of German, Arabic, Spanish and English. German subtitles are displayed during the show.
About two and a half hours, not including an intermission.
The group members have different cultural heritages and mother tongues. Some are Israeli, some are Palestinian. One is Polish.
In the past, we’ve dealt with negative propaganda led by Israeli and European institutions, using our art and our connection to each other against us.
We ask not to be portrayed as a “co-existence” project. We are not working together in order to prove that Israeli and Palestinian artists can coexist, but because we share the same artistic beliefs. Our language is the language of theatre. We respect the ethical limitations of each member, and have made a mutual decision not to request money from the Israeli government for the funding of this project.
This project is and will continue to be made possible thanks to the financial support of institutions in Europe.