Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Hall of Culture has no smell

Bertolt Brecht was among the most prominent playwrights of the Twentieth Century. A very political and a very left-wing playwright. "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" is among the most well-known plays, which is presented again and again worldwide – and also in Israel. A very political play, a play dealing with fundamental political issues of social justice and revolution. Also with who has the right over the land, those who lived and cultivated it for generations, or those who came to settle and develop the land and erect grandiose enterprises on it. Issues which, among others, are also very relevant to us and to the Palestinians.

The Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv recently embarked on a new production of "The Caucasian Chalk Circle", which got critical acclaim. The theatre management, like those of other major theaters in Israel, signed a contract to present the play in the "Hall of Culture" recently erected at the settlement of Ariel, in the heart of the occupied West Bank.

In the eyes of the management, the Ariel hall is no different from any other venue for presenting a theater play, and the settlers' money has no smell. But at least some of the actors have a different opinion. They raised their voices in a protest petition and declared their total refusal to perform at a settlement established in an occupied territory, and thereby become accomplices in the violation of International Law.

Ron Nachman, mayor of the settlement of Ariel, vehemently attacked the actors. "Their decision to mix political opinions with their artistic work is unacceptable and smacks of hypocrisy. If they want to be actors, let them play and not mix culture with politics. What, Brecht said that theater is political in its very essence? Brecht? Who is Brecht to teach me about the theater?"