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Prelude to the play Good Energies

 

In January 2011, at Birubigen Cinema at the Hagdud Ha’ivri Street in the old central station, Maayan Theare presented a political play. The play wasn’t written by an up and coming kicking Israeli young playwright from the Maayan magazine circles. Quite the opposite, the text was completely institutional, an abridged version of discussion number 230 of the Economics committee, which took place 3 months earlier, on the morning of the 5th of October, 2010.

 

Although the creators of the text are MP’s and Lobbyists not playwrights, and the actors weren’t professional, but artists and activists, the play managed to shock and amuse the audience who filled the theatre.

 

The play is the initiative of playwright and poet Yonatan Levy, who first tested the play on a group of teacher at the Anthroposophy stream at Ort Kiryat Tivon High School.  During the actual performance we used a shorter version than this one. The direction was collective and spontaneous. The characters were divided between the actors two hours before the show began, and the actors managed to sneak in a few minutes of rehearsals for staging purposes before the audience arrived.

 

In the background Israel’s Menorah symbol was projected, blinding the actors, and Israel’s flag was hung on the wall to create a formal backdrop.

The theatre didn’t have a long enough table so a ladder was placed horizontally to act as a formal discussion table.

 

The play began by reading the names and titles of the 41 gas tycoons invited to the meeting ( together with 27 MP’s). but when it seemed the list s getting too long, the reading was stopped. In order to bring out the two-faced-ness each one of the actors played two characters, often one that was in favor of raising the royalties payment and one that was opposing the idea. And so it happened that an actor who would play a particular character started a bitter argument with his other character. The identity of each character was symbolized by a folded piece of paper the actors raised up and down to signify the change in character.

 

The only moments they allowed themselves to get up from their chairs and improvise was when businessmen Itzchak Tshuva began his speech.

 

It was documentary theatre, in the sense that it was document-based. Seemingly, a play should be the fruit of someone’s imagination, however if the text wasn’t published on the Parliament’s website, would someone really believe it to be true and not just the fiction of a particularly witty mind writing a grotesque parody? Not to mention that the majority of the politicians, in the original play that took place at the Economics committee, merely mumbled out whatever it was someone told them to say.

 

 

Due to the public’s interest and the comic and dramatic attributes of the text, we decided it was important to venerate this protocol by printing it as a booklet, published by Maayan and Guerilla Culture, to be known as a proper theatre text. The full version can be found on the Economics Committee website. No need to mention that, like in the case of gas itself, the rights over the play belong to the public, not to us. Everyone is welcome to copy and perform this text without our permission. It’s a statement of claim about the way the country wishes to rob the future off its citizens, using hatred and anxiety. The name of the New Fund appears 16 times in the discussion, Iran mentioned 28 times, i.e every 7 minutes. Its worth mentioning that there is absolutely no connection between Iran and raising the gas royalties, that can be used for advancing the education sector, strengthening the health sector, and benefiting the future citizens of this country -  all of which are probably not on Iran’s top priorities list.

You simply cannot write a parody or a satirical play about this subject that will be more succinct, exciting and pathetic than this discussion.

 

The title Good Energies is based on the cynical campaign led by the gas companies in close timing with their attempt to try and take a bite at the Sheshinsky committee decisions, headed by the slogan Noble Energy – brining good energies to Israel.

 

In one of the most beautiful moment in the play, before Yoram Torbovitch (former head of Ulmert’s office, and who later on will claim that it’s not the tycoons who are greedy but the state itself), comes up to speak on behalf of Itzak Tshuva. As he is about to speak, MP Orit Zoaretz (Kadima) says “there are three spokespersons for one company and one that represents the –“ but she gets cut off. And indeed, the main character in the play  is the forgotten Israeli citizen, you, the reader.

 

Even if you’ll laugh, the joke is on you and your future.

 

Written by Roy Arad

 

Translated by: Sivan Gabrielovich