The Cameri Theatre was founded In October 1944 at the mythological "Hapoel" Hall in Tel Aviv and was the home of the popular production - From Then to Now. This event marked the birth of a young and vibrant Israeli Theatre.
The cast included legendary actors such as Yossef (Pepo) Milo and his partner Yemima, Rosa Lichtenstein and Avraham Ben Yossef and actress Batya Lancet.
The success of the above play was the game changer for the 5 actors and inspired then to establish a theatre that would characterize the Israeli spirit.
The Theatre was founded in 1945. Israel's national poet and theatre critic, Leah Goldberg, announced the new theatre in her newspaper article: “A small cast on a small stage… speaking Hebrew with clear and fluent diction. Immediately, you are embraced by a pleasant atmosphere of good taste and the desire to put on a play – marking what seems to be the foundation of the new Cameri Theatre”. At the time, Yossef Milo – the leader of the company – said: “This is the first time that young actors have set out to establish a new theatre. We have not yet pinpointed our unique style, which will be characteristic of the new Jew; his nature, temper, caliber and country.”
During the in depended war in 1948b, they produced a new play, “He Walked through the Fields” by Moshe Shamir.
In 1955, celebrating a decade of activity, actor Yossi Yadin wrote: “The Cameri Theatre was born out of protest… Pepo brought forth the contemporary breeze, the secular, Israeli jargon… and that was the greatest innovation introduced by the Cameri Theatre”.
In 1970, a joined charitable trust was signed between the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Municipality and the members of the Cameri Thetare, stating that: "We hereby establish a charitable trust that will be named the Tel Aviv Cameri Theatre Trust, intended to maintain a repertoire theatre that will produce and stage plays of the international and Israeli repertoire and will be responsible for all matters relating to the existence and management of the theatre”.
In early 1990’s, Noam Semel was asked to serve as the Theatre’s Director General.
In the following year, he invited his artistic partner the Director, Omri Nitzan to join him as the Artistic Director.
The Cameri repertoire policy places an emphasis on Israeli works written by leading Israeli playwrights, directors, actors, set designers alongside contemporary adaptations of global classics, including Shakespeare, Brecht, Ibsen and many more.
Semel and Nitzan's rich repertoire presented during their co-management reflects this inclusive political, social and artistic vision. A selection of the most prominent plays of that period such as Gorodish, Shaindele, Pollard, Midnight Vigil, Family Story, The Rebels, Murder, Burial, Best Friends, Lysistrata 200, Wife
Husband Home, House Man, Utz Li Gutz Li, Ya'acobi and Liedenthal, Eye Witness, Oil City, Father’s Braid, Nora, Merchant of Venice, An Enemy of the People, Copenhagen, Mr. Green, Democracy, The Glass Menagerie and Hamlet, Murder, The Return To Haifa and many more.
In 2002, after over four decades in the old building at the Dizengoff St. the Cameri Theatre was relocated to its new and innovative home, built with the support of the National Lottery and the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Municipality, as part of the . Within just one year, the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center turned into a lively location offering endless and diverse activities in five different halls. Even though the location is new, the Theatre continues to seek the same essence and the same meaning that Milo and his colleagues sought in the early days.
Every year, the Cameri Theatre performs to an audience of 1,100,000 viewers nationwide. In recent years, subscriptions have grown to more than 40,000 subscribers the Cameri performs all over Israel and making theatre accessible to all.
Cameri plays and artists – actors and creators – are awarded the greatest number of awards and commendations at the annual theatre awards ceremony.
Since the young Theatre was born and until now – for almost 70 years – the Cameri continues to seek out its path. “In all of its years, the Theatre provided Israeli society with feedback”, says Semel, “the playwrights, creators and actors have touched upon the open wounds of society, such as the trauma of Holocaust, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Sephardi-Ashkenazi rift, Israeli identity, collective memory, immigration and more".
“We must work toward ensuring that, every night, the Cameri Theatre is selected by the audience, a demanding audience that seeks both meaning and pleasure”, says Artistic Director Omri Nitzan. “The principle set forth by the founders’ vision is the same principle that guides us today – to create Israeli theatre that will reflect the complex, ever changing Israeli experience and create tangent points for the audience to see itself on stage: a meeting point that is rejuvenating, enlightening, sobering and eye-opening. The Cameri must always be a young theatre!”
Former General Director of The Cameri Theatre between 1992-June 2017, is also the founder and Chair of The Institute of Israeli Dram. Semel led the building project of The Cameri Theatre to its new complex at the Culture Square in Tel Aviv. Semel is also the founder of The Peace Fund that brought Palestinian Youth for a day at the Theatre.
In his previous riles, Semel was served as the Cultural Consul of Israel at the Israeli Consulate in NY for four years, as well as General Director of Haifa Municipal Theatre.
The Cameri Theatre under his leadership toured the world with various productions, co produced international work with internationally acclaimed theatres and directors founded the international theatre festival in at the Cameri which is now celebrating its decade.