Entries tagged with “Shakespeare”.

The Shakespearean ‘All the world’s a stage’ gets a new meaning with this very interesting and very different film made by the Taviani brother whose actors and heroes are individuals for which the world is  the high security prison where many of them are to spend long years paying for serious crimes. Using theater as a mean of therapy end education happens in some of these prisons, now a film not only dares to make this process known and visible outside the perimeter of the prison, but also tries to make of it a work of art. The Golden Bear at the Film Festival in Berlin is a proof that the Taviani brothers succeeded to convince at least the critics and members of the jury. I get the feeling that the larger public was less convinced – it’s a very interesting piece of cinema, but not one of these that attracts audiences in numbers. This is not entertainment.


source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Must_Die

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Must_Die


In one of the introductory scenes we see a screen test. The actors-to-be are asked to introduce themselves in two situations – a ‘soft’ family one, and a second which demands them to feel constrained and express rage. Each of them acts with a mix of sincerity and intensity that much exceeds and compensates their lack of professionalism. This is the key of the film. We have already seen theater in theater (Shakespeare himself is the first and maybe greatest master of the genre) and theater about prisons, and many of these were already brought to screen. What we have never seen before is the mix of situations which makes the walls of the prison disappear for the ephemeral moments  when the words of the ancient drama become the reality of life for the prisoners acting it.


(video source Sacher Distribuzione)


The film asks many questions which arise after the screening ends. Julius Caesar is a play about values – honor, democracy, freedom. How do the prisoners relate to these? The characters of the play are cruel in modern terms, the plot is also about treason and murder – how do these men who have committed serious crimes relate to these deeds? Some of the most interesting moments in the play (and there are only a few of them) are these in which real life (which for the actors is life in prison) interferes in the scenes of the play. I found the smooth, sometimes unobserved, sliding of life in a 21st century prison into the political drama that took place in the first century BC to be terrifying.

And then we have the ending. The show is over, it ends in applause and ovations. Then the actors get back to what is their ‘home’ – the prison where most of them still have to spend many years. What we do understand is that life cannot go on without such a film changing it. The lives of the special actors in this movie, but to some extent the lives of the spectators as well.




‘What’s in a name?’ asks Romeo in one of the best known monologues in Romeo and Juliet and in the whole history of theater. What’s in the title of a play that any viewer knows about since school, whose every story detail, scene and sometimes exact words are well know in advance? How can you make of such a play and a story a performance that is relevant to our times? The bet is being taken in the most daring manner by the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv. The bet is won. They trusted the performance to a 30 years old director – Noam Shmuel – at his first major stage performance in one of the best theaters in Israel. Shmuel reused the Cameri 3 hall in the same manner it was used for the performance with Hamlet (staring Itay Tiran) a few years ago. There is no stage in the sense we understand the structure in any theater hall. Spectators are sit in the middle of the room on chairs that rotate 360 degrees, and the performance happens around and in the middle of them. Multimedia screens like in sport bars broadcast from time to time flash news and anchor Yaron London tells the choir part in the style he does the evening news and political commentaries broadcast on TV. Romeo and Juliet are brought in contemporaneity and we spectators are part of the story, which happens at the same level and at breathing distance from us.

source http://www.cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=1883

The beautiful thing in this performance at Cameri is that neither the dramatic structure nor the beauty of the Shakespearean verse got lost in the modern adaptation. The Hebrew translation of Eli Bijaui mixes modern Hebrew with the classical transcription of the language of the bard, and the ratio of the mix is the right one. We are simultaneously in the eternal Verona where the impossible and tragic love story is happening and inexorably ending for centuries but we also are in the 21st century Israel with the crime families wars dominating the news. The violence is the same, the absurd of the circumstances that prevent the lovers to reunite transcends time. One more plus is the selection of the actors. Nelly Tagar is a young, fresh and fragile Juliet, which immediately brings to mind the vision of Franco Zeffirelli who also understood and projected the power of the teenagers love story in his cinematographic version of 1968. Dan Shapira is a plausible Romeo counterpart to Tagar. The role that dominates the performance is however the Nurse, which is turned here in the key character of the story. The vision of the director in general can be called a feminist one, as the feminine characters (the nurse, Juliet, the mothers in the two families) all play central roles amplified relative to what we are accustomed in the classical performances, and even the modern ones where friar Lorenzo is the favorite maverick. Not so here, where Rozina Cambos‘s Nurse dominates the intrigue and the performance in what is maybe one of the memorable roles of her acting career, and maybe the best since she came to Israel. I am following her career for about 35 years so I may be suspected of some bias, but I believe that for many Israeli spectators who saw this stage version, it will remain in memory as the Nurse’s and Rozina’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’.