Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Night at the Theater

Last night, Daniel and I went to see a show called Ahavat HaDracon (the love of the dragon) at the Khan Theater.
The Khan Theater performs in a building that dates back to the Ottoman period (19th C) built on the ruins of an ancient building, and it once served as an inn for travelers to the city. It is spacious and antique - looking, full of arches, old stone, etc.
The performance was terrific, and Daniel and I were pleased to understand so much of it. The basic gist of the plot was that a man is pulled out of the audience and asked to tell the performers about his life, so that they can perform it. He insists that they are not accurately representing his life, but he comes to discover the truth in their performance, in which they represent his fear of death and time, and his rejection of his wife because her growing old reminds him that he, too, one day will die. Tehy made use of Greek mythology and a kind of Greek chorus that sang songs that were comical interludes and interesting devices. On the way home, Daniel and I discussed how much we enjoyed the acting, thought the play was very well woven together, and appreciated the metatheatricality of the production. I was a bit concerned by the representation of women as sex objects and the blatant homophobia of the play, but I did think the production was terrific. If you speak Hebrew and are in town, the show is definately worth seeing. We have a student subscription to the theater, and are thinking of going to see the show a second time!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

From the Khan Theater Website:

The Khan Theatre in Jerusalem is one of the most beautiful and unique theatres in Israel. Up to now the most common opinion was that the building which dates back to the 19th century, the Ottoman period, was built on the ruins of an ancient building from the Crusader period and was used as an inn which catered to caravan travelers who arrived in Jerusalem after nightfall when the gates of the old city had been locked for the night. New research headed by Prof. Ruth Kark of the Hebrew University states that the structure was built in the middle of the 19th century by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy as a silk factory surrounded by mulberry trees that were planted all around, in order to use their leaves to feed the silkworms. Today a mulberry tree still stands and blooms in this courtyard.

Later, during the British Mandate before the State of Israel was established, the structure served as a beer cellar, an arsenal and since 1948 as a carpentry workshop.
In the early sixties an amateur theatre group called "HaMaagal" was performing in a night club in the center of town. Due to a fire in the club, the director of the group, Philip Diskin, was seeking donations and he arrived to the carpentry workshop situated here to ask for a podium as a donation from the owner. The idea of transforming this magnificent place to a theatre was born during this visit. Diskin recruited Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem's legendary mayor who encouraged the idea of giving ancient building of Jerusalem a new and vibrant cultural content. In 1967 the Jerusalem Foundation started to renovate the building. The architects regarded with importance the preservation of the unique features such as the arches in the Hall and at the entrance and the mill - stone in the yard. This concept has contributed to the intimate and unique atmosphere and ambience that still exist today. In October 1967 the opening ceremony of the Khan took place.

In 1972, after surviving the threat of demolition, the Khan was renovated
and transformed into a center for theatre and culture, fulfilling the vision of
Mr. Teddy Kollek, former mayor of Jerusalem, by giving the ancient
buildings of Jerusalem a new and vibrant cultural content. The unique
structure, the beautiful courtyard and the special atmosphere have created a
type of theatre characterized by intimate and direct contact with the audience
and involvement and social interaction with the community.

The Khan Theatre Company is the only permanent repertory company operating in Jerusalem. The theatre produces four new plays each theatre season and the repertoire is carefully chosen by the artistic director, and includes original Israeli plays, some written especially for the company, as well as both classical and modern European and American plays.