Israeli and Italian actors come together for a joint production in Tel Aviv.
By Bianca Ambrosio

"In theater, they all speak the same language," Israeli stage director Yoram Lowenstein explains when asked how actors from different countries, speaking different tongues, perform together in a new show currently on stage in Tel Aviv.

"Human beings all have the same feelings: they love, they hate, they are jealous, they are angry. And there is no need for words, actors speak with their bodies."

In June, using this universal, unusual way of speaking, Israeli and Italian young actors cooperated to stage "Miracolo" (miracle). This unique initiative has come about as a fertile seed sprouted from a 1998 by Lowenstein and Serbian director Vladimir Jevtovic. The two directors decided to initiate an itinerant festival between the Mediterranean countries, so that every year actors and directors from different countries would meet and perform together, showcasing cross-cultural theatrical experiences. And thus the Olive Festival was born.

The festival brought about intense encounters, cultivating strong and lasting ties between the theatrical companies of the participating countries.

In fact, following the Israeli production of the festival in 2006 (in the immediate aftermath of the Second Lebanon War), the Israeli and Italian directors extended their mutual commitment to the project. The Italian school "Paolo Grassi," together with the Israeli "Performing Arts studio," launched a coproduction based on Antonio De Sica's famous movie "Miracolo a Milano."

Roy Reshef Maliach, a teacher and director who graduated from Lowenstein's theatre school, adapted and directed the piece, which was performed both at the "Piccolo Teatro" of Milan and at the school in Tel Aviv. At the core of the show was the irreconcilable disjunction between the rich and the poor – a theme suitable for every metropolis, and which easily reflects Tel Aviv as well as Milan.

In the poor suburbs of a big city, Totò, an eighteen year old orphan becomes the leader of a bunch of disillusioned bums. Patiently and joyously he reveals to his companions how to cooperate and elicit happiness from simplicity, from the little they have. Suddenly a village takes shape and the poor regain their forgotten dignity, collaborating with each other. Totò, the orphan, reconciles them exactly as theatre brings people together in the harmonious tune of imagination.

"I think that 'Miracolo' cannot be explained in words", says Lior, an Israeli actor. "What I learned is that humans are humans. And it's not important if you are from Israel, Italy or Japan; if you show your emotions, if you feel free in front of a group eventually you'll connect to any person. Because of that, I learned that actions and feelings are much bigger than words."

"Miracolo" is a story of discrepancies as well as of optimism colored with imagination. It is a simple story, but mainly a story of hope. And for the artistes involved in the project, the hope of better understanding was realized.

"One of my future commitments is surely to come back to Israel," says Andrea of Italy. "I just love that land, its perfumes, its people."

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