Kol Ha’Ir

Jacque Farber


Shakes, kicks,  seizures,  shooting,  stripping,  hitting,  grabbing, stepping, shouts, screams.  The Lab Theatre presents:  Yasmeen Godder’s dance piece.

Wednesday,  20:30.  The Lab theatre is in full capacity.  The doors close but the lighting refuses to dim down.  The accepted agreement between performers and audience, by which the latter remain protected by the enveloping darkness which signifies the beginning and the end of the show – is not relevant here.  The bright  light is reflected in the wood-like material which covers the floor,  an artificial plant  made of greenish paper mesh is at center stage,  and at the side there is an electric barrier of the common type in any parking lot.

While the audience waits, suspended in anticipation,  Avi Belleli (the Tractor’s Revenge) emerges from the shadows that hover at the corners of the stage to find his place amongst his tools – a double bass, an amplifier,  microhphones. He is at the far end to the stage and performs his original music throughout the show.  The doors open and close with a severe sound – the performers of the Bleeding Bench rush into the theatre and begin a performance which will be remembered as one of the toughest, most intriguing, most intensive and violent shows of this year.

All the occurrences from now on break down into compressed segments of violent action – throwing,  hanging,  shaking, kicking,  stretching,  holding by force,  stepping,  shouts, screams – all with an appalling and highly disturbing beauty.  The bleeding knowledge that all these actions form part of our daily repertoire, part of the automatic survival struggle we have interiorized with insensitivity,  trickles into the consciousness of the spectators.

The seven members of the Bleeding Bench – the excellent  Iris Erez,  Inbal Yaakobi,  Kama Kolton, Meira Weinberg,  Yossi Berg,  Asher Lev and Arkadi Zaides – present mesmerizing and powerful positions,  whose roots are clear:  photo journalism and television news images that show again and again humiliated figures with raised hands,  facing threatening figures holding a gun or shooting from far away.  The repetitive communication feed of brutal violence, which scars our consciousness in a  legitimate and unequivocal manner,  turns in the hands of Yasmeen Godder and her performers into a subversive mean to change reality.  Beyond the display of the raw pain of the occupation and its current horrific ceremonies, we are talking here about its influence on the seemingly passive daily life, about how it permeates into our relationships and social structures, how it makes every effort at human touch and contact into an explosive and hostile encounter between abusers and victims, between those searching for warmth and those searching for domination.

Indeed,  we are talking about a piece which is challenging in a rare manner, not only due to its thematic content and the amplified emotional violence it contains, but also due to the simultaneous occurrences it presents while relying on minimalist d?cor (a bush, a barrier,  the doors of the theatre).  Following this austerity, Avi Belleli does wonders with his music,  swaying from morbid minimalism to soft strings, towards an  end of a merciless finale.

“Strawberry Cream and Gunpowder” was created as a joint project of the unique and talented choreographer Yasmeen Godder (“Hall”, “Sudden Birds”, “Two Playful Pink”) and the Lab Theatre, under Artistic Director Ophira Hening.  It was the major event of their new season, and was also presented at Curtain Up.
As a work which symbolizes so many new beginnings at the same time,  the expectations would have been enough to crush anybody, but in this case,  all of this just empowered the work,  almost to the maximal level that can be tolerated.  The understanding that the piece is a personal-political work, in its most immediate and instinctive level,  contributes to the perfect timing of its coming about on the landscape of current activity here.