A new artistic director for Holon’s International Women’s Festival wants to introduce audiences to young female artists, playwrights and performers.
Ori Egoz, a 38-year-old playwright and theatrical director, has been working hard since September to prepare a fresh new program of events for the annual International Women’s Festival, March 9 to 12 at the Holon Theater.
“For me, the most important goal is to showcase the talents of young women – the next voices in theater and music,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
Along with general director Guy Telem, Egoz has chosen many relatively unknown talents for this year’s bill. She’s new to the festival, which is marking its 15th year in Holon, a seaside cultural bastion south of Tel Aviv. She’s also brought in some veteran performers from abroad.
Among the visitors will be the Portuguese ethnic singer Lura, and the American actress Anna Levine Thomson. Thomson, who was last in Israel for the 2000 debut of the award-winning Fast Food Fast Women at the Jerusalem Film Festival, will participate in a dialogue with that movie’s Israeli writer/director, Amos Kollek, following a screening.
Egoz is excited about moderating this public discussion. “Thomson is considered by Kollek as his muse,” she says. “She is completely unpredictable and very brave. She gives a sharp and emotional performance conveying a lot of pain in her characters.”
Audiences interested in the duo’s other cult classics will be able to catch several of them, such as Bridget (2002), at the nearby Cinemateque Holon.
Tastes of Broadway, YouTube and Elvis
The serious will be amply balanced with the light-hearted at the festival, which is timed to coincide with the 100th International Women’s Day.
Dancer-choreographer Renana Raz will present YouMake ReMake, an all-female version of her unique interdisciplinary show where performers share their favorite YouTube clips and act out their interpretations of those clips on stage. This unusual piece, says Egoz, gives audiences “a new look at how YouTube influences our lives as creators.”
Members of the Israel Women Composers Forum will present a chamber “marathon,” and other musicians lined up include jazz pianist Katya Tubul and folksinger Sharon Azaria. Idan Alterman and his Magical Mystery band will perform hits by the Beach Boys, Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra and Prince.
Israeli songstresses Riki Gal, Ruti Navon, Karolina, Yael Krauss, Tamar Eisenman and Yael Deckelbaum are planning an Elvis Presley tribute, Sing to the King.
“We thought it would be a way of taking a manly symbol, the king of rock and roll, and giving it to the Israeli queens of rock and roll,” Egoz explains.
Selections from the Broadway musical comedy I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change are to be performed by two male and two female Israeli artists.
According to Egoz, there is even some humor to be mined from Hilary Friedman’s G’virti (Ma’am), an on-stage conversation with an autistic woman she helps care for in a group home.
“I tried to put together a good combination of new voices in the arts as well as voices that have something different that they want to say and ideas they want to investigate in drama, music and dance,” Egoz says.
Emerging dancers, playwrights
Efrat Nehama and Miriam Moses are among these new artists. Nehama’s dance piece, Partitions, explores religious barriers between women and men. Moses will present Sentiments, a work based on her observations of how daily interaction with soldiers impacts the play of children in Samaria.
An Arab-Christian playwright from the Culture Lab in Nazareth will stage her play about women married to alcoholics and drug addicts. Samira, a drama by Anat Barzilai, portrays a failed female Palestinian “martyr.” And Dafna Rubinstein’s All the Time in the World follows a woman in the world of men engaged in the world’s oldest profession. This play originated in a joint Israeli-Lebanese playwrights workshop.
“This is the power of art,” comments Egoz. “Taking subjects and emotions we all deal with — anger, jealousy, love, hate — and showing how writers and performers handle these emotions differently according to their special way of looking at them.”
The festival also will pay tribute to two famed Israeli pioneers of the arts: the late Sara Levi-Tanai, one of the first ethnic Yemenite choreographers in Israel and founding director of Inbal Dance Theater; and Lia Van Leer, Israel Prize-winning founder of the Haifa Cinematheque, the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Israel Film Archive and the Jerusalem Film Festival.
The event will be rounded out with art exhibitions and also conferences for Israeli career women involved in business, medicine and architecture.