Curtain rises on Israel Theater Showcase

Ma Yue
"The Superfluous Man," by Israel's Mitcha Figa Theater, is being presented as part of the Shanghai Culture Square's Israel Theater Showcase.
Ma Yue

Israel's Mitcha Figa Theater is presenting "The Superfluous Man" to Shanghai audiences this weekend, raising the curtain on the Shanghai Culture Square's first Israel Theater Showcase.

The play is adapted from Russian author Ivan Goncharov's 1859 novel "Oblomov." The title character is wealthy and intelligent, but incapable of taking any action in his life.

"The whole idea started from a political angle, as I was thinking how could some people just lay back without working or doing anything for society," said director and playwright Yehezkel Lazarov.

Curtain rises on Israel Theater Showcase
Ti Gong

Director and playwright Yehezkel Lazarov talks with Shanghai media.

"Then the pandemic started, and the whole story had a personal angle, as I noticed a lot of people doing nothing during that period. I was thinking is it acceptable if a person leaves nothing behind him (after passing away). I wanted to present this 'nothingness' on stage."

Lazarov used to be a dancer, who then developed an interest and skills in varied areas like choreography, stage design and even education. He is also the stage designer, multi-media designer and choreographer of "The Superfluous Man."

"I have worked constantly for 42 years," said Lazarov. "Creating this play is also a kind of self-query about my workaholic nature.

"After the pandemic, this production is still relevant to a lot of people and their lives. I hope the play can help the audience examine their status of life.

"It's not a judgmental work, as 'superfluous man' might actually be needed by the society for a kind of balance. But I do judge those who leave themselves bored in life.

"All in all, it's a play about where and how to find passion and motivation for life."

Curtain rises on Israel Theater Showcase
Ti Gong

"The Superfluous Man" premiered in 2022

The performance will be in Hebrew with English and Chinese subtitles.

The other two plays of the Israel Theater Showcase are Gesher Theater's "The Dybbuk" and Beit Lessin Theater's "Hamlet." They will be staged in October and November, respectively.

"Israeli drama involves strong ideological content," said Fei Yuanhong, vice general manager of Shanghai Culture Square.

"The Culture Square is known for staging musicals, which is entertaining. But we also want to present high-quality performances featuring depth in content and humanity for our audience. So we introduced this showcase."

The last time the Culture Square staged a Hebrew drama was in 2019 when Hanoch Levin's "The Child Dreams" was performed.

Curtain rises on Israel Theater Showcase
Ti Gong

According to the director, the play is about where and how to find passion and motivation for life.

Performance info:

Dates: July 8-9, 7:30pm

Tickets: 80-580 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square 上海文化广场

Address: 597 Fuxing Rd M. 复兴中路597号

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