Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

The Message of Rina Yerushalmi

by Staff Writer

"Rina Yerushalmi's Mythos, a co-production of the Itim Theater Ensemble and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv, which plays at the Lincoln Center Festival through Sunday, freely adapts The Orestes of Aeschylus to evoke the long cycle of war and hatred in the Middle East. Once, the enemies were Greeks and Trojans; today we cannot help thinking of Israelis and Palestinians," wrote Margo Jefferson in the New York Times. She was very impressed by Mythos the Greek drama which was staged, recently, at the Lincoln Center Festival 2003.

The play by Itim-Cameri of Tel Aviv, under the management of Noam Semel, was an opportunity for the American people to learn about the greatness of Rina Yerushalmi, a superb director and a creative one.

Mythos is based on the Greek plays, that relate to the Myth of House of Atreus: a royal family confronting its fate of blood revenge. The head of the dynasty, Tantalus, began a pattern of sin: tricking the Gods or the enemy and slaughtering children. This pattern repeated itself in variations through the generations and perpetuated an endless cycle of revenge, as a response to the latest murder.

Mythos deals with the theme of revenge at the level of the individual, the family and the nation. At the individual level, the pain and passion for revenge turns into obsession, which controls the avenger's life: Such are Clytemnestra's revenge on her husband, or Electra's, causing the death of her mother. At the family level revenge is an obligation, "life for life", as Electra says. It is also a religious command, such as when the God Apollo sends Orestes to kill his mother. Revenge at the national level is justified as a moral act, as demonstrated in the Greek war against the Trojans. At all these three levels revenge is an instrument of justice. Yet, at the end it brings destruction also upon the avenger.

The following people contributed to the success of Mythos premiere in Ramat Gan:

Rina Yerushalmi, director, was born in Israel. In 1989 she founded the Itim Theatre Ensemble in affiliation with The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. Her production with the Ensemble include Hamlet, for which she has been awarded The Margalit Award for Best Director and Best Production, Israel 1990. Hamlet appeared at The International Shakespeare Festival in Brawnnschweig, Germany, 1990; BAM, New York, 1992; The International Holland Festival, Amsterdam 1992. Woyzeck, for which she received the Halevi Award for Best Production and for her Contribution to the Theatre, 1991. Romeo and Juliet, which was the first Israeli production to appear at The International Shakespeare Festival, London, under the auspices of The Royal Shakespeare Company. The Bible Project, her latest work with the Ensemble, was granted The Theatre Academy Award 1998, Israel, and the 1999 Millo Award for Best Director. Her latest opera, Electra (Strauss) performed at The International Opera Festival, Israel, and at the International Opera Festival 2000, Savonlina, Finland. These projects have established Yerushalmi's artistic uniqueness, and have made her work a milestone in the theatre scene in Israel.

In 2001 she received the title of Doctor Phiosophiae Honoris Causa from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Rina Yerushalmi is the recipient of the UNESCO fellowship for Theatre Research, Japan, and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) fellowship for television. She serves as a Professor at The Tel Aviv University.

One of Yerushalmi's great successes was The Bible Project, 4 parts, 1996-2000. The parts were staged in many countries and Yerushalmi was awarded non-stop by many such as the Yoseph Milo Prize (Tel Aviv). Itim-Cameri was praised by many such as the American Theater, May-June 2002 which wrote: Rina Yerushalmi's ITIM Ensemble is an outstanding artistic phenomenon in Israeli theater. In the 10 years of its existence, working in cooperation with the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, ITIM Ensemble performed in the most prestigious international festivals and its productions, directed by Rina Yerushalmi, acquired worldwide recognition for their artistic achievements.

"I believe that the global theatre artists of today such as Ariane Mnouchkine, Luca Roconi, Thomas Ostermeir, Ivon van Hove, Yukio Ninagawa and Rina Yerushalmi, all have ideas, storytelling techniques and convention that make theatre a vital and dynamic part of their communities; and, if we are lucky, part of our own."

ITIM has also an International Advisory Board. Among the members are: Chairman, Harvey Lichtenstein, BAN Local Development Corp. New York Joseph Melillo, Executive Producer, BAM, New York, Sir Adrian Nobel, Royal Shakespeare Company, Strafford-upon-Avon Michael Kustow, Producer, London, Leon Katz, Prof. Emeritus, Yale University, U.S.A., Earle R.Gister, Associate Dean, Loyed Richards Chair, Yale University, U.S.A.

Israeli-American distinguished artist, Isack Kousnsky, could not believe his own eyes. Whoopi Goldberg, yes the great "Whoopi" bought one of his unique paintings! She even might introduce him to her audience at her TV show.

Kousnsky (Studio at 111 Mercer Street, Soho), developed a unique technique of mixing painting with photography. His last exhibition was Painting Photography which attracted many admirers.

Kousnsky, like many Israelis and Jews, loves to dine at Hoomoos Asli (Middle Eastern restaurant at 100 Kenmore St.) because it serves the best Middle-Eastern dishes in New York City, perhaps in America. But there is another reason: you can see inside Asli, the unique creation of Kousnsky, The Blue Hole, a touching painting.


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