Producing Artistic Director Guy Ben-Aharon wrote the following blog post for StageSource in celebration of World Theatre Day:
THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL THEATRE
March 27th, 2012 marks the 41st anniversary for World Theatre Day.
I moved to the United States at the age of 9 without speaking much English at all, and a year later, in fifth grade, a few of my American friends invited me to audition with them for the after school production of Mary Poppins. I landed the part of Mr. Dawes Senior—the old banker who sings “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” and then laughs to death. Doing theater taught me to express myself in English, and made me feel like I was a part of something. Theatre gave me a sense of belonging.
Now I run a small theatre company called Israeli Stage (IsraeliStage.com), whose mission it is to bring Israeli theatre to American audiences. I founded the company a little over a year ago, and since then we have put on seven different staged readings; one world premiere, three American premieres and three regional premieres. We are currently in the midst of our first tour; we are taking a staged reading of Savyon Liebrecht’s Apples from the Desert to six academic institutions in the Greater Boston Area to commemorate International Theatre Day and International Women’s Month.
I started Israeli Stage to shed light on Israeli culture, and to provoke conversations about Israel that might not happen outside of the cultural sphere. As a theatre-artist, I believe it is our job to bridge the gap between people living in opposite corners of the world, and present work that explores universal themes that allow audiences to connect to narratives that are specific to cultures that we don’t know connect to on a daily basis.
Can you imagine how different your reaction would be to the recent tragedies that are happening in Syria had you attended a play by a Syrian playwright? How much more united you would feel to the Japanese people who lost family and friends in the Tsunami had you read a script by a Japanese playwright? North Korean and South African life would not seem so distant from our own if we make space for their art to be a part of our lives.
I salute the local theatres that are presenting translated works by international playwrights (ArtsEmerson, Apollinaire Theatre), and invite everyone else to join the movement! Presenting international plays not only broadens our minds, but also introduces us to different ways of thinking.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre,
Producing Artistic Director and Founder, Israeli Stage