A year has flown by and the 55th Israel Festival is here, ready to go. We are proud to present outstanding performances from Belgium, France, Austria, Italy, Portugal, the Czech Republic, China, the United States and, of course, Israel. The Festival invites us to slow down and observe, to experience new artistic languages, reconnect with the classics through the contemporary, be part of a local-global community, and take delight in the extraordinary!
We urge you to be adventurous, wander among the various performances and site-specific public events. Come explore and enjoy the artists as they open their world to us, enabling us to join their fascinating, and inspiring artistic journey. The dynamic events calendar and attractive ticket specials are set up to facilitate attending several shows back-to- back or in multiple visits. We hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity – come and have fun!
Sincere thanks to all our partners for your gracious support and dedication. A standing ovation to our super festival team!
See you at the Festival.
A note from the Artistic Director
The Israel Festival is happening, here and now, in Israel, in Jerusalem. We might ask: How can we define the concept of “now”? In what ways can we contemplate it, understand it, grapple with it? Is it so near that our eyes may be incapable of seeing it? And if we do not comprehend it, how can we know about it? Its layers and sounds are many, and many people claim that they are representing the now. So where is it? Does art help us to deal with this quest? And how do the theater arts hold a dialogue with the now? As we plan the Festival, we try to set assume reference points that might help us expose a little of the mystery surrounding the concept of “now.”
On a geographical level, we can look at two locations in Jerusalem that make for interesting reference points. One is Zion Square in Jerusalem’s downtown area, where we are putting up an architecturally-designed space in cooperation with the Architecture Department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. The purpose of this space is to find a place in the hearts of passersby, offering them a break and a different way of looking at the environment. The other is the Jerusalem Theatre, another focal point of culture in the city both in terms of its architecture and in terms of the content that it offers.
This seesaw between the open space of the Jerusalem street and the indoor theater hall is a fascinating play of relationships that create a reverberation between one another that happens in unexpected ways. The theater links arms with the unpredictable life of the street and the multiple identities of which it is made. The order that exists, on the street — its choreography, which include rules of conduct as compared with the rules in the theater space and the stage, are both being challenged with the frame of the festival.
The place between there and here is another reference point that allows us to look for the “now.” it is another geographical reference — ourselves and the world. What does the world offer us, and what do we offer it? Conversation, a meeting for the exchange of ideas. A chance to encounter creative processes containing knowledge and inspiration from cultural spaces that are different from our own. The Festival is an opportunity to create a “complete” space in which the local and the international share an agenda of culture, art and creative freedom.
Of course, we cannot think about the now without paying attention to chronology — past, present, future. In choosing the performances for the Festival, we place a contemplative emphasis on the past and on that which has accumulated. This perspective does not attempt to be nostalgic. Out of great appreciation, it seeks to do honor, yet at the same time we wish to bring our point of reference on the concept of artistic creativity and its creators up to date. We want, simultaneously, to connect with the work and liberate it. It is along this axis that the artist Nevet Yitzhak meets the work of Yechiel Shemi in a video-mapping work projected on his famous fresco on the façade of the Jerusalem Theatre. Ravid Kahalani, Karolina, Shai Zabari, Miri Mesika and the band Echo & Tito bring Shoshana Damari’s songs to the domains of soul and punk. And these are just a few examples.
We look, with our eyes wide open, at the boundary that lies between theatrical representation and live performance art — at what exists between a creative process in which the action is recreated and moves along a set pathway, and a work that demands uniqueness and action in real time. It is there, along this line, that we find the many options that offer us live art. Performance art has challenged the world of the stage in recent decades and led it to fascinating quests.
While dramatic theater may be defined as an event that is performed in front of and for the audience, contemporary or post-dramatic theater is defined as an event that takes place with and in cooperation of the audience. This cooperation takes place at various levels, and one of the major elements is the exposure of the mechanism of action. Dramatic theater is a theatrical work from which we depart with real knowledge, as much as is possible, since it demands that from the audience. On the other hand, contemporary theatrical work is, in essence, a live drill that gives the audience a feeling, and only a feeling, of holding on to things that it cannot understand intellectually in the first place. This process produces learning of a certain sort, though not didactic. It might be thought of as a ramble beneath that which is not possible to grasp…
To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, who said about the development of art that one does not start with the good old things but rather with the bad new ones, when we think about art, the now seems to be on one side or the other, but never truly comfortably in the middle. The Israel Festival seeks to live comfortably in the faintly dim twilight zone of the now.