"Acco brings the viewers into the magic of creation"

The anonymous writer of “King Richard’s Journey” compared Acco to mythical Troy: “if a war that lasted ten years turned Troy into a famous city of all times, if Christianity’s victory caused Antioch to become a more praiseworthy city, then Acco will surely win the crown of eternal glory, being a city the entire world fought to conquer”.

Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre managed to conquer Acco in a process started 25 years ago.

Far away from the tumult of the big cities, quiet, modestly and wavering, a unique and special process started to encourage the original theatrical creation, which gives artists and creators not only an incredibly original stage, but also great halls full with historical memories, bringing the viewers and visitors into the magic contents and into the soul of creation.

This extraordinary process started with the initiative of Oded Kotler, who together with Yossi Frost, Yossi Fitusi and Haim Shiran, managed to persuade the late Mrs. Lea Porat, to locate the Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre in Acco.

Twenty five uneasy years have passed. Successes and failures, and all along this long road, ways and ideas were examined to improve and innovate and also to define, each time anew, what is indeed an alternative theatre.

Rafi Etgar, Designer of the Festival’s logo, defined it as “an opening for creators”; Shlomo Bar Shavit - “there is no such thing called alternative theatre”; Nikko Nitai - “an alternative theatre is my theatre”.

Dealing with designation and goals brought about, eventually, looking for and finding new ways, or more correctly, innovative ways in the theater and into the theatre. Innovative ways expressed by the unobtrusive connection between the creation and location and the very close connection between the theatre loving audience and the artists.

Together everybody looked for an unequivocal saying, or extraordinary wish, which didn’t always find a corner in the institutionalized theatre.

Looking for new credo brought about the enlargement of the Festival’s activities into the Old city alleys, into the yards and thousand year old stones, decorating the history pages of the ancient world, the land of Israel and Acco.

Acco uniqueness is, of course, in its natural resources, in the history looking out from each corner and each stone. But the uniqueness is expressed also in its special human texture. Jews and Arabs, new immigrants and native born, thousands of tourists from within and without the country - all these, combined with its smells, spices, special dishes and the principle of traditional hospitality, contributed to the city in general and Acco Festival in particular, the amazing multicolored rainbow of the biggest theatrical celebration in Israel.

Keeping the unique character of the Festival, and the mere fact of its taking place each year without any breaks, is a credit to its managers, from its first day until today, the evening of the 25th Festival. Oded Kotler, Tom Levy, Haim Trager, Shimon Levy, Zachi Beker, Eran Baniel. Avi Yifrach, Shmuel Hasfari, Yaacov Agmon, Nahum Langsam, Dudy Maayan, Galit Berski, Gad Oron, Itzik Weingarten, Rony Ninio, Yoram Kleiner, Itamar Gurevitch, Atty Zitron and Jacky Bachar.

All these dear festival managers, worked not only with great loyalty and professionalism but also regarded the festival as a most important creative and cultural mission to the theatre in Israel and its cultural lives.

Twenty five years of festivals did only good things to Acco. The existence of the festival in the city brought about a major change in everything having to do with cultural development, flourishing amongst city merchants, theatrical and artistic awareness among the youth and especially in the theatre class in ORT Acco School, flourishing and international success for the Acco Theatre Center and in the last three years, success and achievements for the “Masrachid” - solo performances in Arabic.

In January 2000, the presiding mayor Dr. Shmaryahu Biran, assumed the managing role and thus after 20 years, the managing and production of the festival moved into the hands of Acco municipality.

The current mayor, Mr. Shimon Lankry, took upon himself this great and important mission, to move the festival into a better future, in the start of the third millennium in the state of Israel.

Acco is an extraordinarily beautiful unique port city, with its colorful array of citizens, charming alleys, astonishing underground halls and spaces, antiquities and smells.

All this exciting and magnificent texture created the Acco Festival of Alternative Theatre, which put its mark on the art of theatre in the State of Israel for the last 25 years.

Albert Ben-Shloosh
General Manager and Senior Producer
Acco Festival of Alternative Theatre