The Schmooze

Of Settlements, Boycotts and Political Theater

Watching an actor burst into tears during a monologue, Hamlet marvels at how the performer inhabits the scene so deeply — if only he could evoke such dramatic feelings in real life, Hamlet reasons, he might save his kingdom. Thus inspired, Shakespeare’s hero rewrites the script of a play that dramatizes what’s wrong with his country, and presents it at the royal theater. Hamlet believes he can use the stage to shake-up the state; Israel’s actors seem to have taken the cue.

On August 25, a group of nearly 60 actors, directors, writers and theater professionals released a letter saying that they will refuse to perform in Ariel, a large West Bank settlement which is set to open a cultural center in November. The center, which took twenty years to build and cost about $10.5 million, will be the first space in the West Bank that is large enough to host Israel’s six major theater repertories. At least eight shows have already been scheduled, and the first set of memberships to the center sold out quickly, according to Ariel mayor Ron Nachman.

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Of Settlements, Boycotts and Political Theater

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