In October 1944, the " Hapoel" hall, on 4 Nachmani St. in Tel Aviv was the home of the popular skit show - “From then to Now”, which marked the birth of a young Israeli theatre. The cast consisted of Yossef (Pepo) Milo and his wife Yemima, Rosa Lichtenstein and Avraham Ben Yossef (all deceased) and actress Batya Lancet. Their success inspired the five actors to go on to establish a theatre that would characterize the Israeli spirit.
The Theatre was born in 1945. 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, 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.” As the Independence War raged on, the theatre put on “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 deed of charitable trust was signed between the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Municipality and the members of the Cameri troupe, 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 the early 1990’s, Noam Semel was asked to serve as the Theatre’s Director General. In the following year, he invited Omri Nitzan to serve as the Artistic Director. The Cameri repertoire policy places an emphasis on Israeli works written by leading Israeli creators and their place on stage alongside contemporary adaptations of global classics, including Shakespeare, Brecht, Ibsen and others. Semel and Nitzan believe that the rich repertoire presented during their co-management reflects this inclusive social and artistic vision. A selection of the most prominent plays of that period (be specific, until the present?) Gorodish, Shaindele, Pollard, Midnight Vigil, Family Story, The Rebels, Murder, Burial, Best Friends, Lysistrata 200, Wife
Husband Home, House Man, Utz Li Gutz Li, Yacobi 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.
In 2002, after over four decades in the building at the Dizengoff Passage, the Cameri relocated to its new and innovative home, built with the support of the National Lottery and the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Municipality. 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 ~110,000( does that mean a million?) viewers nationwide and, in recent years, subscriptions have grown to 40,000. here you need to say that there is a subscription and that the Cameri performs all over Israel, including the periphery, 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 Director General Noam 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!”