City of Refuge 

Lead artist/researchers: Thomas Kampe, Julia Pascal, Miriam Sivan
Performers: Adi Lere, Ofer Yatziv, Tony Simpson

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A physical and visual theatre piece based on Miriam Sivan's short story

City of Refuge is a short story developed into an aesthetic as a contemporary performance piece. Its central theme is the internal struggle of a pregnant woman trapped in a pre-war European mindset while living in contemporary Israel. Dori believes that the shop called Kafka's she knew as a young woman, belonged to Franz Kafka and when she sees that his widow has died she goes to the mourning house where she meets a man she believes to be Kafka's grandson. After a sexual incident with him she discovers her mistake but has to make a decision about staying with her Israeli husband and satisfying his conventional lifestyle or choosing an independent life where she creates a new identity for her and her newly-born daughter.

City of Refuge translates existing literature into multidisciplinary driven performance art. It offers a learning curve to a prose writer new to theatre exploratory process.

The investigation is how to translate a short story into performance in an inventive way by using existing text, non-naturalistic theatre approaches, movement, visual art based installation. It is inspired by the heart of the story but our process liberates the narrative from prose to a less naturalistic theatrical voyage.

The piece explores the following questions:

  • How does a woman who carries the ethics and aesthetics of European pre-war society adapt to modern Israeli society which negates a major part of the European Jewish experience.

  • Is a Jew also able to be an Israeli?

  • How do these political and cultural questions become translated into a pregnant woman's life when she seeks the answers in a world which exists no longer and yet lives in a militarised nation state which has little time for dreams.

  • How do European Jewish and Israeli issues of cultural identity resonate within a contemporary British and British Jewish context?



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