The Israel Festival in Jerusalem

An Interview with Eyal Sher, the Festival Director

פסטיבל ישראל - תיאטרון - הר אולימפוס- צילום Ph Wonge Bergmann
פסטיבל ישראל - תיאטרון - הר אולימפוס- צילום Ph Wonge Bergmann
30 MAY 2016
by

On May 24th until June 11th, the Israel Festival, which marks 55 years since its founding, will be held in Jerusalem. This will be the second year of the Israel Festival under the new management - executive director Eyal Sher and artistic director Itzik Giuli.

The Israel Festival will continue to provide a link between contemporary trends in global and Israeli culture on the one hand and performances that originate in the classical and familiar, and are presented from a contemporary viewpoint.

Alongside original Israeli performances, the Festival will present shows by bands, artists and writers from Austria, Italy, Belgium, France, Portugal, the Czech Republic, the United States, and China. The Festival events will take place all over Jerusalem in its sites, theaters and special spaces, including the Jerusalem Theatre, Masie House, Beit Shmuel, the Gerard Behar Center, the Jerusalem Music Centre in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Safra Square, Zion Square, The Yellow Submarine, The Zappa Club, the YMCA, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, and the Islamic Art Museum.

I was happy to hear that Eyal Sher had been appointed as the director of the Festival. Having got to know Eyal in the not too distant past, this was an opportunity to ask him a few questions.

What is your vision for the 2016 Israel Festival? What does it represent for you?

It is a 55-year-old Festival, and I was appointed to direct it two years ago. Teddy Kollek, the late Mayor of Jerusalem, brought it from Caesarea as a music festival to Jerusalem in the 1960's. It is a festival that includes theater, music, etc, and presents both mainstream and peripheral culture. In the past, the Festival offered people the opportunity to see international performances. Times have changed, and so the Festival has to look forward because its uniqueness has been eroded due to the appearance of other festivals. The new artistic director sat with me and we deliberated how to innovate, what to bring in order to present and identify new trends before they became public property. Today, there is a blurring of borders on the stage, new artistic idioms incorporating theater, music, dance, video, etc. We want to introduce the creators of the new artistic idioms. We are bringing artistes from China and Cameroon, not because of their origin, but because of the unique character of their works. They are bringing with them new and groundbreaking works. There is here an encounter between the Israeli and the international with master-classes and workshops for students, guests and professionals. This represents scope for international cooperation. We are also holding at the same time a Children's Israel Festival and events which are open to the public.

Have you also approached countries which don't have diplomatic relations with the State of Israel to send their artistes to the Festival?

Our approach is artistic, and we invite artistes. The art must percolate through the political barriers, and constitute a bridge for cultural cooperation. On the whole, we have been only marginally affected by the boycott of Israel.

Artistes from eight countries in the world are participating in the Festival. How will artistes from other countries in the world be able to participate in next year's Festival for example?

We are planning to bring artistes, but they can also contact the Festival via the Israeli embassies or by contacting us directly.

Can you expand on the show "A sign from Iran"? Who are the artists whose posters are exhibited in the Islamic Museum and how did they get here?

The posters were exhibited in a Czech gallery and brought from there. They are posters from Iran which were created between the years 1973 and 2013. Posters dealing with different aspects of the Iranian experience.

Here you will find what's in Israel Festival. For those who are planning to visit - Enjoy!