English Theater in Tel Aviv, by Israelis!

Guest Blogger: Maya Hagoel

Yes, Israelis can do English theater just as well as we can - maybe even better!  Last Saturday night Inbal and I attended Tziporela's premiere English performance at the well-known Tzavta Theater in central Tel Aviv. Tziporela is a group of nine actors that met twelve years ago at Israel's top acting studio Nissan Nativ. After graduating, the quirky, witty, young and sexy Israeli actors began to write and direct together forming Tziporela, which has become Tel Aviv's leading sketch comedy troupe. Ask any informed, worldly and intelligent Tel Avivian, and they will vouch for me on that statement.

That being said, I can't believe it took me almost six years to find this group! Having been born and bred in the city where a Broadway show was the norm for a Saturday afternoon, theater and acting always sparked that secret part of my brain. There are dozens of indie theater groups in Tel Aviv, never mind the professional companies such as Habima, Cameri, Beit Lesin, Gesher, etc. However, finding good English theater in Tel Aviv proper (i.e. not Jerusalem, Ra'anana, or Herzeliya) is HARD! 

 Cast of Tziporela, now performing in English

Cast of Tziporela, now performing in English

Tziporela’s style is that of an off-Broadway show, weaving together movement, music, and slapstick comedy in a performance that cuts across cultural lines. The show we saw Saturday night was all in English and was a combination of 16 theatrical sketches including new and current material from two of the group’s existing Hebrew shows - Hatkafat Lev and Akitza Tiv’eet - both titles highlighting the wittiness of the group's members and its productions with a play on words in Hebrew. In the 16 sketches, some lasting just a minute long and most of which are not related to one another, Tziporela is able to make us English speakers feel as if we're part of the joke. It's not just poking fun at Israelis and their "Polish" mothers, it's also poking fun at us Anglos living in Tel Aviv! The sketches are ridiculous, smart and funny, and simply have you laughing out loud. What better medicine could you prescribe for a cold and rainy winter in Tel Aviv?   

 Ben and Dana performing a hilarious sketch in the English version of Tziporela

Ben and Dana performing a hilarious sketch in the English version of Tziporela

Tziporela’s next English performance is scheduled for January 28th at 9pm, also at the famous Tzavta Theater at the corner of Ibn Gvirol and Shaul Hamelech. [**Contact Delicious Israel for possible discount tix - info@deliciousisrael.com]. The group also plans to take the show worldwide, to all types of audiences, including the Jewish and pro-Israel groups that will laugh at the same jokes we Zionists enjoy. Looking forward to seeing more and different performances by the group in English - I'm a fan!

If after reading this post I’ve piqued the actor/actress in you and you’re looking to get involved in the actual production and acting aspects of English theater in Tel Aviv – I’ve got something for you! There is a group called T.A.C.T., also know as Tel Aviv Community Theater, that I got involved with a few years after making Aliyah, which is dedicated to bringing English-language theater to Tel Aviv since the wave of Anglo Aliyah in the 1970's. The group puts on performances and runs workshops suited for people like me: actors, actresses, stage design and directors in disguise (my day job involves number crunching and giving strategic advice to start-ups and the likes). The group is currently undergoing a revival (initiated by yours truly), targeting a new generation of Tel Avivians (ages 20 - 40) and is initiating a monthly meet-up in two weeks on January 7th at Mazeh 9. If you're interested in getting involved or are one of those people who always had this "I wonder if" feeling... like our new facebook page so you can receive updates!