The Surrealist art movement aimed to liberate its practitioners and audience. It is no wonder, then, that it appealed to Jews who fled Europe in search of freedom.
Orto-Da, an experimental theater group based in Tel Aviv, arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport irritable and exhausted. Delayed because of a visa battle that left their lighting technician stranded in Israel, the troupe members collected their baggage and raced to the Carlson Family Theatre in Calabasas, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, to begin rehearsing their latest play, “Stones,” with a local lighting guy. Orto-Da’s much anticipated American debut at the California International Theatre Festival, was in less than 48 hours, and it was off to a very shaky start.
‘I do a lot of things,” Claude Berger said as he slipped into his restaurant’s kitchen for a glass of red wine. “I’m a writer, I play the flute and I’m a singer. I used to own another Yiddish restaurant before Le Train de Vie. But it closed.” He poured the wine, then paused. “And oh,” he suddenly remembered, “I’m also a dentist.”
Budapest’s crumbling VII district is like a noir film. Except for a few frothing drunks, the former Jewish ghetto is now a ghost town. Only the slot machines in the Roma, or Gypsy, bars cut the blackness. Below the burnt-out street lamps or within the abandoned buildings, some clandestine act is waiting to unfold. And clandestine action was exactly what I was looking for in the Pearl of the Danube.