Founded in 1989 by theatre director and choreographer Rina Yerushalmi and stage designer Moshe Sternfeld (d. 1994), the Itim Ensemble is Israel's leading experimental theatre group. The Ensemble was founded in affiliation with the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv and is located on Nahmani Street in the heart of Tel Aviv. In this theatre laboratory, we devote long periods of time to researching, exploring, and experimenting with classical texts in order to find, each time anew, a performance language that best reflects the symphonic, simultaneous, and complex experience of life.
The Ensemble's most important projects to date include Hamlet (1989), Woyzeck '91 (1991), Romeo and Juliet (1993), The Bible Project (1995/1998), Mythos (2002), The Three Sisters (2004), and most recently A Midsummer Night's Dream (2006). In each of our projects we aim to touch life in the present by examining social, political, and philosophical questions that dominate our cultural discourse and mirror changes in perception about one's place in the world. This we do through a laboratory process of researching theatre as a medium, seeking in each production the performance idiom that best translates the human condition into art. We study the flux, interplay, and changing dynamics between actors, audiences, and texts.
How do we work?
All of the Ensemble's productions are based on Rina Yerushalmi's adaptations of canonical plays or non-dramatic texts. In each of the projects the dramatic material directs our construction of the relations between time, space, actors, and audiences. These relations lead to original compositions that de-emphasize the traditional centrality of the text. Rina Yerushalmi's postmodern and deconstructive theatre language includes the use of doubling and tripling of characters, re-editing scenes of the original texts, juxtaposing famous scenes with unexpected visual images, and giving one character's lines to another. Her unique theatrical language is based on visual images that present the classical texts in a new light, making them acute and relevant by means of expressive movement, music, and lighting.
Each of the Ensemble's theatrical projects is a dynamic "work in progress," evolving through stages. We always begin with special emphasis on the actor's creative bonding with the material. The actors are asked to explore their own responses to the chosen themes, texts, and questions we are interested in. The potential theatricality of the performance starts to emerge as the text, acting, space, visual design, and rhythm gradually generate images and moments that best enhance and reflect the theme we are interested in. The intensive work gives the actors the necessary time to tap into their true interest in the material, allowing their individual uniqueness to surface. Thus, their creative input is interwoven into the production. Accordingly, a central artistic dynamic that underlies all of the Ensemble's productions is the communal and collaborative involvement of all participants (actors and designers) in the creative process, and a true commitment to theatre as a way of life. Therefore, our projects continually remain in a process of experimentation and fine-tuning, based on our experience and especially on the audiences' responses.
Rina Yerushalmi founded The Itim Ensemble in 1989, in affiliation with The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. Her productions with the Ensemble have established her artistic uniqueness, made her work a milestone in the Israeli theatre scene and are part and parcel of the prestigious international festivals around the world.
The Itim Ensemble Productions:
Hamlet - The Margalit Award for Best Director and Best Production [Israel]; Performed at The International Shakespeare Festival in Brawnnschweig, Germany; BAM, New York; The International Holland Festival, Amsterdam.
Woyzeck - The Halevi Award for Best Production and for Yerushalmi's Contribution to the Theatre [Israel]
Romeo and Juliet - First Israeli production to appear at The International Shakespeare Festival, London, under the auspices of The Royal Shakespeare Company.
The Bible Project - Va Yomer. Va Yelech / Va Yishtachu . Va Yerra -
World premier - Wiener Festwochen in Vienna.
The Israel Festival, Jerusalem,
Sommer Theatre Festival, Hamburg , Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco;
Zurcher Theatre Spektakel, Zurich; London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT);
Theatre Der Welt, Berlin; Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre; The Kennedy Centre, Washington DC;
KIT Copenhagen International Theatre; Adelaide Festival, Australia; and others.
The Theatre Academy Award and the Milo Award for Best Director - Israel
Mythos - performed at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival, New York ;
Zurcher Theatre Spektakel, Zurich; Dublin Annual Theatre Festival, Dublin.
Three Sisters - World premier at the Israel Festival , Jerusalem, May 2005.
A Midsummer Night's Dream - At the Ensemble new home - Nahmani Tel-Aviv 2006-2007
At the New Israeli Opera, Yerushalmi directed Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck), for which Opera News-New York-gave her Brava. Electra, for The Israeli Opera Festival and The International Opera Festival Savonlina 2000 (Finland), was acclaimed as a stunningly impressive Electra [Ita Savo].
In 2001, Rina Yerushalmi received the Rosenbloom Award for the founding of The Itim Theatre Ensemble and for her uniqueness as a theatre director.
In 2005, Yerushalmi received the Landau Prize of Mifal Hapais for excellence in creating an original, powerful and total theatrical language .
Yerushalmi received the title of Doctor Philisophiae Honoris Causa in 2001 from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is the recipient of the UNESCO fellowship for Theatre Research, (Japan )and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) fellowship for television, USA.
Professor Emeritus at The Tel Aviv University.
Rina Yerushalmi ISRAEL PRIZE recipient 2008