For actor Amit Bar-Am, this year’s performance in the fringe theater Clipa Aduma festival was a bid for closure.
Bar-Am’s show, which included dancing and speaking and was called “The Old Man and the Sea,” is one of several brought to the stage in Clipa Aduma, a fringe theater festival that has been hosted by Tel Aviv’s Clipa Theater for seven years.
Last year, his father watched him perform on the same stage. Two days later, he died unexpectedly from a heart attack — one month before Bar-Am’s son, the family’s first grandchild, was born.
So Bar-Am created “The Old Man and the Sea” in his father’s memory, drawing on the classic Ernest Hemingway tale but also incorporating the loss of his father and birth of his son.
“I’m alone at sea, in a paper boat — a very fragile boat, a very unrealistic boat — one man becoming one with nature,” he said, referring to the large paper boat he used onstage. “Nature is death, and birth, and becoming a father, and losing a father.”
He added, “The last time I saw him was on this stage, and now, a year later, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to him here.”
For seven years, Clipa Theater, founded by Idit Herman and her husband, Dmitry Tyulpanov, has hosted the Clipa Aduma festival to showcase Israeli artists such as Bar-Am, as well as international theater groups.
The festival’s name, “Clipa Aduma” — Red Peel — was chosen in part for the visual image it creates and partly because of its similarity to “Kipa Aduma” — the Hebrew name for Little Red Riding Hood, Herman said. “Clipa,” the Hebrew word for peel, was the name of the theater’s first performance. Audience members began calling the theater “Clipa,” and the name stuck.
Throughout the theater’s existence, Herman, whose background is in dance, and Tyulpanov, who worked in theater and music, have sought out creative artists — not just actors.
“The atmosphere is sometimes beautiful and happy, and sometimes extremely hard,” said Herman, Clipa’s creative director. “It takes a lot in order to bring the piece to its final details, and we take this time. Since we don’t have much money, we take the liberty of time.”
It’s difficult to run the festival and try to figure out how to finance it each year, she said. “Every time, we’re asking ourselves the ideological questions — why do we do this? Who needs this? Who needs art?” she said. “I finish the festival completely exhausted every year and swear never to do it again.”
But each year, something — she’s not sure what — brings the festival back again.
Maybe it’s the performers.
“This theater can give you a stage for something unusual — a theatrical language that doesn’t have boundaries or rules like traditional theater,” Bar-Am said. “It gives you more freedom to explore your ideas.”
The first few days of this year’s festival emphasized Israeli performances. On Wednesday, varied performances bracketed Bar-Am’s.
In “Pshat,” the Talmudic term for discerning between the literal and hidden meanings of the text, Yonatan Kunda slowly peeled off layers of clothing — rain clothes, a tracksuit, a formal black coat, a tie, a long, pink dress, a brief shirt and shorts — in a performance completely without speech that culminated in his clutching the hands of two women in the front row, his eyes closed, before he stripped completely down to his dark-colored skivvies. The performance explored the personal and religious choices a person can make and the mindset changes that accompany an outfit change.
In “Hacord,” Ella Rothschild danced — sometimes in slow, jerky movements and at other times fluidly, gracefully — before launching into a throaty cover of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” The guitar she strummed was attached to a string, the other end of which was affixed to the single shoe she wore. The audience chuckled as she used the shoe and a primitive pulley system to manipulate the guitar.
In “Driftwood,” Ronnie Heller explored nature and humans’ existence using the element of wood. It was surreal, but also very physical — “I’m dealing with very heavy objects,” she said.
Incorporating pieces of wood into her performance, Heller transformed from domestic to elemental.
“I turn into a fish at one point,” she said, imitating the universal gaping-mouth fish movement. “It’s a piece about yielding and coming into nature.”
These and other acts were presented between Wednesday and Friday.
There were also several performances in Haifa of “Men,” a collaboration between Clipa Theater and Taketeru Kudo, a well-known Japanese Butoh dancer. The performance was created and premiered in Tokyo.
Two other international groups were involved with this year’s festival: Krepsko, from the Czech Republic, and DoTheatre, a Russian group from Germany. Krepsko performed “Fragile” at Clipa Theater in Tel Aviv. The performance centered around Laura, the character from Tennessee Williams’s play, “The Glass Menagerie.”
“Through her fragile presence we sink deep into mute yet joyful loneliness,” states a description of the performance from Mayim Alpert, Krepsko’s composer. “Through meticulous lighting, and almost obsessional details of gesture, we fall to pieces — together with Laura — into shards, which will doubtlessly need putting together again.”
Herman described Krepsko’s work as “mind-breaking and wonderful.”
To close out the festival, DoTheatre will present “Upside Down” at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. Monday at Clipa Theater. The award-winning performance has already been performed around the world, Herman said.
Tickets for the foreign performances cost NIS 100. A schedule and ticket information is available on Clipa’s website. Clipa Aduma, Clipa Theater, 38 HaRakevet, Tel Aviv.