The performance with ‘The Trojan Women’ put on stage by the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre is a proof of the way great theater transcends time, and to what extend a tragedy written 24 centuries ago can be so actual and can speak so directly to the issues of modern history or even of the contemporary times. It certainly tells a lot about the genius of Euripides, but also about human nature, and about the world we live in. The play deals with the fate of the Trojan women, waiting for the Greek victors to decide their fate – slavery or death – after the defeat of Troy. It can be seen as a long lament and a dispute with the gods about the fate of a vanquished nation, the destruction of a homeland, the loss of freedom and the vicissitudes of the condition of women in times of war.

 

source https://www.cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=2532

 

The ambitious project now on stage (for only one week) in Tel Aviv is the result of the collaboration between the Cameri Theatre and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. Director Yukio Ninagawa is a well-know name in Japan, very high regarded for his staging of Shakespeare and Ancient Greece playrights. He  is not at the first tentative to work with an Israeli theatre. The history of his collaboration and involvement with the problems of the region and some of his thoughts and experiences during the realization of the current production are described in an interview given a few weeks ago to the Japan Times. It is no easy task to bring together on the same stage Japanese, Jewish and Arab actors, to make them work as one team, to bridge the cultural barriers, to defuse the political tensions and the tensions created by the text and subtext. Because of its perennial nature  Euripide’s text can be read as a metaphor of Hiroshima and the disaster of Japan in the 2oth century, of the Holocaust, or of the Palestinian exile and occupation. The mission of the director was to transform these tensions into artistic tension, in art.

 

source https://www.cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=2532

 

I find the result spectacular. The stage is deprived of any garments, all the rendition of drama is left to the actors and to the stage music which combines intonations of Japanese music with Middle Eastern lamentation tones. The cast is composed of Japanese, Jewish Israeli and Arab actors, in an almost mathematically equal  distribution. All actors speak their own language, and the chorus (composed of five Japanese, five Jewish and five Arab actresses) repeats each incantation three times, once in each language. Although text translation is offered, at some point in time it becomes irrelevant. While director Ninagawa allowed or maybe even instructed each sub-team of actors to act in their own (classical Japanese, modern European, and melodramatic Arabic)  styles, the whole performance has a definite Japanese atmosphere, and especially in the second part stage movements and intonations became more important than the words of the text.  A great contribution is brought to this esthetic quality by the lead actress Kayoko Shiraishi in the role of Hecuba. She dominates the whole performance, melding the personalities of a hero of Greek tragedy with the calculated drama of a Japanese acting star. I will not mention other names, but the whole rest of the team is homogenous and very well directed.

This version of Trojan Women is an event from many points of view. It stages almost every day of the week until Saturday. For these of you who can reach this week Tel Aviv, love theatre, and can find tickets my strong recommendation is not to miss it.