Summary Report: Acco Festival 2008

The audience again “voted with its feet” and filled the halls of the 2008 Acco Festival, which enjoyed an artistic success.

The winners of the Acco Festival competition:

The 2008 Acco Festival Prize for the best play went to “Two-and-Twenty Pictures” by Ruthie Osterman, who directed together with Yael Libman.

The Acco Mayor’s Prize for the most promising artist was awarded to Nava Frenkel who wrote and directed “A Little Vacation.” The winnings are to fund her next work.

The 2008 Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre concluded on Thursday, December 25.
The Municipality of Acco did its utmost to hold the Festival this year, after it was postponed due to the Yom Kippur riots in the city, so as to continue and provide a professional platform for performers to stage their premiere creations, and to allow the audience at large to engage yet again in an original and intriguing theatrical experience.

Despite shifting the Festival from the Sukkot holiday to Chanukah (in late December) with its wintry weather, the Festival was held in an atmosphere of celebration under the headline: “In Acco We Speak Art.” The audience of visitors, who filled the venues to 85% capacity, “voted with their feet” and proved yet again the importance of the Acco Festival as a leading event in the world of Israeli theatre, that allows artists to develop and create intriguing, original, creative, experimental theatre.

Albert Ben-Shloosh, the Acco Festival’s general director:
“Despite the Festival’s postponement, that wasn’t due to the artists or production staff, we succeeded in holding the Festival almost in its original format. The quick arrangements for staging the open-air events in covered spaces allowed the audience an enjoyable viewing experience, and the wintry weather granted the Festival a special atmosphere and sense of intimacy, a family feeling. This was one of the Festivals that will be well remembered from the artistic and production viewpoints.

During the course of the Festival, nine plays premiered in the context of the competition of new works in the Knights’ Halls in the Old City. This year these dealt with topics touching upon personal and national history, the political and societal, and in different ways of coping within various family configurations.

Along with the competition plays were special productions and a range of open-air events, including 30 acts of street theatre and music ensembles, held this time in a giant tent set up in the Festival Gardens and in additional roofed spaces (due to the threat of rain), that were open to the audience at large.

Two special events in particular, initiatives of the Festival, were presented throughout its course to great acclaim:

“Acco on Stilts” – a special project produced by the Acco Festival with the support of the Beracha Foundation.

In this project, dozens of Jewish and Arab youth from Acco and the surrounding Western Galilee communities, who had never before tried stilt-walking, took part in an intensive workshop led by leading performers in the circus field. The young stilt-walkers’ debut appearance was a colorful processional for the delight of the festival-goers. The project was designed and directed by the Rakefet Levy School of Design for the Performing Arts.

The Youth Zone – was held in the framework of the “Israel at 60” Events for the country’s anniversary, at the initiative of the Acco Municipality’s Youth Council that provides a city-sponsored space dedicated to teens. Other initiators were Acco’s network of “Matnas” community centers and the nationwide “Volume” centers.

The Youth Zone venue featured workshops in laughter and meditation, and performing on the open stage were young musical talents alongside a drumming circle whose participants included local youth.
Throughout the duration of the Festival, the zone was visited by hundreds of young people from all over the country who were invited to share the experience, free of charge.

Recognition as a “Notable of the Acco Festival” was awarded to two individuals:
Dr. Shimshon Shoshani, for accompanying and supporting the Acco Festival at various crossroads in its history, and for his civic activism. Dr. Shoshani, director of the Birthright Israel program, has filled many positions in public service over the years.
Professor Shimon Levy, for his efforts and artistic endeavors for the Acco Festival during the past 25 consecutive years. Prof. Levy, on the faculty of the Theatre Arts Department of Tel Aviv University, has directed and translated some 150 plays.