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Acco Fringe Theater Festival: Alternative Theater (and Dance)

Posted on 04 October 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: Some of the entries in this year’s competition, including Ofer Amram’s physical theater work Sanatorium

I took a detour from writing strictly about dance when I accepted an assignment to cover the Acco Fringe Theater Festival for the Jerusalem Post.  Though I’ve never been to this event, I’ve heard that it’s one of the most adventurous and intriguing festivals in the country – and I was certainly intrigued by how many programs in this theater festival are movement based.

Some shows are billed as dance theater (Yoav Bertel and Avigail Rubin’s A Compensating Experience), physical theater (Ofer Amram’s Sanatorium), or motion theater (the group Makhol).  Others are outright dance works, like the Acco Dance Greenhouse ensemble’s Neuronirvana, which was shown this summer as part of the Maholohet festival at Suzanne Dellal.

The international selections also feature a good dose of movement.  3Some, from Germany, was created by Israeli choreographer and actor Nir De-Wolf with Knut Berger, while The Vengeance Cell is by Japanese butoh artists Taketeru Kudo and Jun Wakabayash.  The Teatro Pavana street theater group from the Netherlands includes stilt-walkers, and the German group Grotest Maru employs physical theater techniques in The Waters of Acco – A Dance on the Shore.

To learn more about this year’s Acco Fringe Theater Festival, read my article below, which was initially published in the Jerusalem Post.

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Alternative Acco

In the midst of the Jewish holiday of Succot, modern-day Israelis added a new celebration.  Just as the ancient Israelites journeyed to Jerusalem for the holiday, hundreds of thousands of hungry culture-goers flock annually to the old city of Acco during Hol Hamoed to witness the latest harvest of alternative theater.  Now in its 30th season, the Acco Fringe Theater Festival is as adventurous as ever with 450 diverse performances challenging typical notions of theater.

Smadar Ya’aron, who is co-directing the festival for the first time with Moni Yosef, explains, “We are looking for pieces of theater which propose another approach, whether it’s visually, or concerning the content or other aspects of the theatrical event . . . What is also important for us is that the theater will be daring . . . To dare to do a step, to dare to say something which is maybe not so popular, to dare to try and explore.”

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Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor: An Interview with Dramatic Dancemakers (Podcast)

Posted on 09 December 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Download the podcast (You can right-click the link and press “save as” to download the file to your computer.)

(Oren Laor and Noga Golan in the “Interlude” from Duets; photo by Gadi Dagon)

(This podcast was initially produced for Israel Seen, and the text is amended from my writing there and on The Winger.  You can subscribe to this podcast using the iTunes software by clicking on “Podcasts (RSS)” at the top of this website or following this link to the podcast feed.)

Among the many choreographers premiering work at this year’s Curtain Up Festival are Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor.  With Niv’s background in dance and Oren’s training in theater – and with the special synergy between them – their work has the power to probe the depths of human relationships and prompt laughter at the lighter moments of life.  In the pair’s Curtain Up 2008 offering, Post-Martha, they tackle Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with their trademark dramatic flair, communicative skill, and choreographic honesty.

I hadn’t been in Israel very long when I first saw Niv and Oren’s Duets last fall, but even after many months and many, many more concerts, this piece remains one of my favorites.  I immediately thought of this collaborative team when I started planning for my podcast, and I was thrilled when Niv and Oren agreed to be my first interview subjects last winter.

Like true Tel Aviv-ians, we met at a cafe for an engaging chat in January 2008.  We discussed Niv’s training in dance and Oren’s background in theater, their collaborative creative process, and their choreographic treatment of relationships and gender issues in Duets and Jorona.

To listen my conversation with Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, click on the podcast player above or subscribe to the podcast and download it to iTunes.  To see more fantastic photographs and video clips of Niv and Oren’s work, keep reading the post below.  And if you are in Israel, you can attend Curtain Up 2 in Tel Aviv (Saturday, December 13) or in Jerusalem (Thursday, December 18) to catch their Post-Martha!

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