Voice of the Word Festival 2015

Voice Of The Word Festival 2015 2

 

At its best, art has the ability to elevate and inspire us, while encouraging us to question our relationship with the world around us. This ability was extremely evident at the final performance of the annual “Voice of the Word” festival, a unique event produced by Hazira Performing Arts Arena that blends different pieces of avant-garde theater to create a spectacular arts experience. The festival took place in the studio of the Jerusalem Theater, an intimate setting that encouraged interaction between the actors and the audience.

 

The first act, “Woman in the Third Row”, asked the audience to leave its comfort zone – literally – as audience members were asked to switch places with each other. The piece blended the boundaries between performer and spectator, as audience members were invited on the stage to perform dialogues raising ethical quandaries, while Alit Kreiz, the actress running the show, watched silently.  The performance set the tone for the evening, as the next piece, “A National Segment”, used film and music to explore the complex web of political identities in Israel. The third performance featured spoken-word brilliance from Neta Wiener, who played the role of a cultural buffoon proposing a new arts festival, called “Assmar” to take place in Jerusalem. (Yes, that sounds as ridiculous in Hebrew as it does in English.) His sketch drew much laughter from the audience, many of whom were members of the Jerusalem arts scene, and all of whom had in fact, made a decision to attend an arts festival in Jerusalem that evening. Mr. Weiner returned to the stage later that evening for the finale, a song called “The Ashkenazi Village” that used both music and spoken word poetry to engage in a poignant and humorous exploration of Ashkenazi identity in Israel. The fourth performance, “Points of Suspension” featured a mock-interview between a newscaster and a Sephardi singer, using humor to explore stereotypes of Sephardi Jews that exist in Israeli culture. It was followed by the film “Heat in My Head”, which focused on the relationship between an Israeli Arab filmmaker and his family. The sixth performance, “From the Sky”, used dance to produce a moving meditation on the human body as a work of art.

 

The performers kept the audience spellbound; at times, the hall rung with laughter, while other times, it was full of the discomfort that accompanies the moment when a piece of art inspires you to question your values.  All performances were innovative and thought-provoking, combining beauty, discomfort, and humor, to create a truly magnificent event.