Theater of Crisis in Israel/Palestine

It seems that two remarkable, powerfully self-reflective theater productions are currently being staged in the same little patch of land: “Gaza-Ramallah,” a Palestinian play produced by The Haya Theater in Ramallah; and “Bat-Yam-Tykocin,” staged jointly by The Habima Theater and the Contemporary Theater of Wroclaw in Tel Aviv.

For its part, “Gaza-Ramallah” appears to skewer Gazan and West Bank culture with equal opportunity satire. Interestingly, Palestinian actor/playwright Imad Farajin chooses not to dwell on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza but instead turns his sights on Gaza’s materialistic consumer culture. He seems to be just as unsparing in his portayal of Palestinian Authority corruption in the West Bank.  From an Amira Hass feature in Ha’aretz:

It is a culture where Palestinian businessmen, politicians, dialogue and research institution directors associate with Israeli counterparts and former senior military officers and the Shin Bet security service. A culture that allows a few individuals to accumulate wealth at the expense of the struggle against occupation. It is the “Oslo culture,” which has given peace, dialogue and coexistence a bad name.

“Bat-Yam-Tykocin” appears to be equally as emotionally/politically raw.  The pair of plays, written by an Israeli playwrignt and a Polish playwright respectively, is performed in Polish and Hebrew and takes head-on some of the common assumptions Jews and Poles harbor about the Holocaust.  The results seem to be, understandably enough, fairly challenging and painful – you can read more about the production in another newsy Ha’aretz piece.

I’m consistently struck by the ways theater can address the inner truths of complex issues in ways that far transcend media reports and history books. And I’m heartened that in the midst of this tragic crisis, there are still Palestinians and Jews who are ready to plumb their respective experiences with unflinching honesty…

The clip up top features “Bat Yam” in rehearsal; below you can see an excerpt from “Gaza-Ramallah.” (No subtitles, however – you may have to find an Arabic-speaking friend to translate).

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