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EXILE AT HOME (article first published : 2007-01-12)

Forming part of the Musho Festival is Exile at Home sponsored by Tararam, the South Africa Israel Culture Fund. It is one of the two international productions on the festival (see separate article)

Two actresses, one an Israeli-Arab (Rauda Man) who also acts as Uncle Magdi, who works as a labour hand in the kibbutz fields which once belonged to his family (in excellent costume and makeup changes on stage with her back to the audience), and Irit Bat Matityahoo, an Israeli Tourist guide in Berlin (Gaby Aldor), are seated on appropriate platforms on the stage. There is a third cast member, Telenovella on a video projection (Claudia dela Seta), and they relate their life stories, depending on their places of origin, family histories and dreams, longing for the promised land (Israel) their place of origin, the old country, to old times, and to a better, perhaps idealised, future. This production addresses the variety of the cultures and problems of the people who live in Israel.

The young Arab woman, an Israeli citizen and an artist, debates troublesome encounters with family and state, music and poetry easing the conflict.

Uncle Magdi epitomises how during the war of 1948 hundreds of thousands of the Palestinians living in Palestine (before it was established as the State of Israel) left the country and he now prefers to work in the fields, although he does not own them, which used to be an Arab village. The Arab population in Israel having suffered from military restriction and humiliation for many years see themselves as equal and wish to be treated accordingly.

The Israeli Tourist guide, in a very convincing performance, describes how the immigration from the German speaking countries had a cultural difficulty in trying to adjust to the local middle-eastern reality. She goes back to her childhood memories which collide with the memories of the holocaust. She discovers that the return of her father to "his" Germany is impossible - another sort of living in two worlds which cannot be bridged.

Telenovella has longings for a better future and exposes her disdain for violence, biblical and contemporary, and believes in the possibility of a better world where people will be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

This has been a very worthy opening of the Musho festival where the two actresses held the audience in the palms of their hands. It was written by the above three actresses for the Arab-Hebrew Theatre organisation and has been sponsored by Tararam, the South Africa Israel Culture Fund.

To book tickets for performances at either venue, call Thandeka at the Catalina on 031-305 6889. The full programme is available at www.mushofestival.co.za and tickets are R50 per person per show (R25 students and old age pensioners). Maurice Kort




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