"Acco brings the viewers into the magic of creation"
The anonymous author of "The Journey of King Richard" compared Akko to the mythological Troy: "If a war that lasted a decade, made Troy a famous city for all generations, if the victory of Christianity made Antioch more glorified, then Akko will surely merit eternal glory, being the city the entire world struggled to conquer.
Akko Festival of Alternative Theatre conquered Akko in a process that began almost 40 years ago.
Away from the bustle of the big cities, rather with modesty and hesitation, a unique and special process has begun for the encouragement of original theatrical work, granting artists and creators not only an amazing original stage, but also halls, abundant with historical memories, which draw the viewers and visitors into the magic and soul of the work of art.
This extraordinary process has begun at the initiative of Oded Kotler, who - together with Yossi Frost, Yossi Fitussi and Haim Shiran - succeeded in convincing the late Mrs. Leah Porat to set the location of the Israeli Festival of Alternative Theatre in Akko.
The festival has been through thirty-eight years, not always easy ones. There have been liftoffs and successes along with declines; and during this entire long period, ideas and ways have been examined both to renew innovate and enhance and to try to define, each time afresh, what indeed is an alternative theatre?
Rafi Etgar, the designer of the festival posters defined it as "a doorway for creators". Shlomo Bar-Shavit – "There is no such thing named an alternative theatre". Niko Nitai – "An alternative theatre is my theatre".
The engagement in goals and objectives finally led also to searching and finding new ways, or rather, innovative spirits in the theatre and for the theatre. Innovative spirits which were expressed both in the direct connection between the work and the location as well as in the very close contact between the audience of theatre-lovers and the creators.
Together they all searched for an unequivocal statement, or an extraordinary wish, which did not always find a corner at the institutional theatre.
The search for new statements expanded the Festival's fields of activity to the alleys of the old city, to the yards and to the thousand year-old stones, which adorn the pages of history of the ancient world, of Eretz Yisrael and Akko.
The uniqueness of Akko lies, of course, in its natural treasures, in the history, which emerges from every corner and every stone. However, the uniqueness is also expressed in its special human texture. Jews and Arabs, newcomers and veterans, thousands of tourists from Israel and from overseas – all these, together with its odors, spices, special dishes and the principle of traditional hospitality, contributed to the city in general and to the Akko Festival in particular the spectacular rainbow of colors of the greatest theatre celebration in Israel.
Maintaining the unique character of the Festival and its mere existence, which lasts year after year, without a break, is credited to its directors, from day one to this very day, the Eve of the 38th Festival.
Oded Kotler, Tom Levi, Haim Treger, Shimon Levi, Tzahi Beker, Eran Bniel, Avi Yifrakh, Shmuel Hasfari, Ya'acov Agmon, Nahum Langsam, Dudi Ma'ayan, Galit Bareski, Gad Oron, Yitzhak Vinegarten, Roni Ninio, Yoram Kliener, Itamar Gurevitz, Itai Zitron, Daniela Michaeli, Smadar Ya'aron, Menashe Yosef and Jacki Bechar. All those dear festival directors have done it with not only great loyalty and professionalism, but also regarded in it as a very important cultural and creative mission for the theatre and the cultural life in Israel.
The contribution of 38 years of the festival brought only good for Akko. Holding the Festival in the city, led to a great momentum in everything related to development and tourism, flourishing among the city merchants, to theatrical and creative awareness among the youth and particularly at the Theatre study- stream at the Ort Akko School, to the flourishing and success of the Akko Theatre Center, and in the last ten years to the success and achievements of the "Masarhid" Festival of single/solo performances in Arabic.
In January 2000, the then mayor of Akko, Dr. Shmaryahu Biran, decided to undertake the management scepter, and after 20 years, the management and production of the Festival passed to the hands of the Municipality of Akko.
The current Mayor, Mr. Shimon Lankri, took upon himself this big and important mission in order to lead it to a better future during the third millennium of the State of Israel.
Akko – a beautiful port city with its unique and ancient beauty, with its colorful residents, magical alleys, the amazing halls and spaces under the ground, its antiquities and odors. This entire spectacular and exciting texture has created the Akko Festival of Alternative Theatre, which has left its mark on the art of Theatre in the State of Israel during the past 38 years.
Albert Ben Shlush
CEO and Chief Producer
Akko Festival of Israeli Alternative Theatre