Hatikva Workshop Theater Tours
Hatikva Workshop Theater started as a group of artists that made protest acts; after Yom Kipur in October 1973 they started to have other aims including wanting to bring hearts close.
1971 - Plastic Flowers
Plastic Flowers was about the feelings of "the other Israel" - suburb people and the slums - that are like synthetic flowers with lack of soul, in the eyes of "the first Israel". After most of the shows, the cast would stay and discuss the issues of the act with the audience.
October 1972 - Suspect Always a Suspect
"Because of Plastic Flowers, the first act of the workshop, I was turned to by gangs from the neighbourhood, who asked me to bring their problems to the stage as well as in the shape of an act", says Bezalel.
'Suspect Always a Suspect' is about these criminals and their relationships with the Police. If a person who was once a suspect and got in trouble with the law - then he will be a suspect over and over, every time a house gets broken into, every time someone gets caught with drugs and the police are looking for those responsible.
The story of the suspect who is always a suspect begins when one of the guys sees the news with a report on another burglary. 'The immediate suspect' starts to pack his bags and leave town; even though he has nothing to do with the burglary, he knows they will come directly to him. It is about a guy who he was previously involved with when he broke the law before he was 18, and did time in prison for 2 years instead of someone else. He is looking for someone to help and advise him, but is turned down every time. Despite that, he is recruited to the army, where he meets a girl from a good family, and they become friends. When he is back in the neighbourhood, again every cop can arrest him and take him to jail.
His friend comes to his home and sees her boyfriend with a bag, waiting to be arrested. She decides to stay with him, even though his friends warn her that she may also become an immediate suspect. She starts asking questions, and instead of answering her, they each tell her their stories. It's like an act inside the act. They tell her how when a lawyer is charged with a robbery of diamonds, he convinces someone from the neighborhood to claim they are guilty, and promises he'll help him get only short time in jail. The suspect confesses to a robbery he never commited, but during the trial he finds himself alone, and gets a long time in prison.
The guys tell her how the police get people to inform on their friends and neighbours, tell her about jail, etc. During one of these acts, the police really did get into the theatre and take the suspect with them while hitting him, just like in the act.
May 1973 - Sambusac, When is the Elections?
"What can I tell you? I have money. I have an apartment. I have a job, thank God. I own a car, I pay phone bills, I have a mistress... just hope I'll hold like this. Even my children have almost anything: high education, villa for young couples, two housemaids, so the wife will not complain -everything. Just give me strength to keep fool these people again, so that they remain idiots and keep our party in government, and not force us find another way to keep us in government. And most important, that I'll be comfortable, I don't care about the state, as long as I'm comfortable. You know how good, like years before. God of elections, you chose us. You love democracy, this disease"...
This is part of the opening act of 'Sambusac, When is the Elections?' a play by Bezalel Aloni.
Sambusac is a kind of oriental pastry, fried and baked with peanuts and raisins, or filled with chopped meat. But the same word is also used to to describe a fool who does everything others want him to do, and can't use his own brain. Bezalel used this word to describe the people as foolish, that everyone fools them, lies to them, make promises to them before the elections, and when they are reelected - they forget they ever spoke to the people who supported them and got them elected.
The play describes a female professor, who makes a poll before the elections; whilst doing that she meets different kinds of workers with large families, each of them presents himself as Sambusac, because he is also part of the anonymous herd voters. As opposition to them, director Bezalel Aloni, who also takes part in the act as a wheeler-dealer of the party who has everything. Now he comes to the people again, trying to fool him again. He makes demands for the party, for the country - for everyone. Innocent people even give their shirts and pants, but with the same taxes that were brought by the hard working people, he builds houses for wealthy people, takes care of the sons of the other dealers, while the ordinary people who work hard, gets only little crumbs.
Click here to download the show's program
July 1974 - First Love
After three plays, all written and directed by Bezalel Aloni, this time the author decided to go somewhere else - a musical dedicated to the first love of the Yemenite Jews the story of the immigration of them to the land of Israel and the settlement of 200 of them in Kefar Hashilo'ach, near Jerusalem, in 1882.
Of course this is only the beginning of the story, as expected from the Hatikva Workshop Theater, this is not a sweet story about the settlers. The Yemenites, like their Ashkenazi brothers, turn to The Baron De Rothschild, asking for help as he helped the settlers from Europe, but in the play they get nothing.
First Love also discusses the Hebrew workers in Israel, and describes how the Yemenites were brought to the farmers who treated them like slaves making them work very hard and paid them little.
In the second part, after the break, they bring up people who live close to Jerusalem, who tell their stories from the days when the British army ruled the country, and tell about the relationship of the Arabs and the Jews in 1936-1939, which forced the Jews to learn how to protect themselves with weapons. It is a humorous and funny act.
The play ends in modern day, when the mother is happy with her daughter who graduated with a first class degree, and her conservative father who is upset with the fact that her boyfriend, whom she is going to marry, is Ashkenazi. After Ashkenazi passes the test - he learns how to read the Bible with cantillation notes, the father agrees, but still asks: "why didn't invite even one Yemenite or Sepharadic to the first Zionist congress, ha?"
November 1975 - And Beside That, Everything is OK
In the 'And Beside That, Everything is OK' play of the Hatikva theatre workshop, they don't use ordinary humour but more satire about things that happen in real life, from the news, from politics, etc. They laugh about the financial problems, immigration absorption and ethnic gaps - this comes to fruition in an interview made by a journalist (Ofra Haza) with the people of the neighbourhood.
The "journalist" says: "hello. I'm from the radio. Are you from the neighborhood? You don't bite, do you? You don't stab, right? Oh, you are poor. I learned in the university that you are poor. How many children do you have? Do you speak Hebrew? Do you but in the store with Israeli money? Do you listen to music, or just Levantine sounds? Do you make children just so they can live from my father's taxes, or do you make children only because you have nothing better to do? Do you know the holidays of Israel? Are prisons enough for you?"
November 1977 - Song of Songs With Amusement
Why did King Solomon, the most clever person of all, write things that come from a bitter soul, such as "and I find more bitter then death the woman", and later on: "vanity of vanities, all is vanity"? All blame is on one girl, who lives in poverty in Jerusalem. Solomon had a thousand wives, but it wasn't enough for him. He saw this girl, Shulamit, and was amazed by her beauty. But Shulamit didn't want him. Her heart was with another man, who was called "feedeth among the lilies".
This is, in short, the story behind Song of Songs With Amusement, the musical of the Hatikva Theater Workshop.
But Song of Songs With Amusement is not just a nice legend. Shulamit (who is played by Ofra Haza, who was recently released from the army) didn't return love to Solomon, and not only because she already found her love. She was also disturbed by the socio-economic gap. The poor girl who was kidnapped to the palace was furious about all the wealth she saw there, while she and her family and all the people from her neighborhood were forgotten by all these wealthy people. Since her kidnapping, she furiously raised the issue of the economic and social problems of Israel.
At the end of the 1970's, Ofra became a solo singer, and then had 3 tours in Israel: Temptations (1982), Magic Queen (1984) and Ofra Haza on Stage (1986). During her international career she had another tour: Finger of God (1992).
September 1982 - Temptations
After the release of the album 'Temptations', in the middle of May 1982, Ofra began working with producer Eldad Sherim on a new tour under the same name. All of Ofra's more hidden sides were brought up front in this tour; she sang about faith, love and daily hopes. At the same time, Ofra exposed her qualifications as an actor, a comedian and a mimic. Ofra learned how to stand on the stage in front of hundreds and thousands of people, and speak directly to their hearts. It was electrifying and the audience loved her. One of the critics wrote: "charisma of purity and beauty".
Until that tour, Ofra only appeared in short performances, most times with playbacks. "Now", she says, "people who buy tickets will come to see me - an hour and a half of Ofra Haza on stage! Up until now I didn't think I can make a tour based on two albums. Now, when my third album is released, I have enough material to choose from. I know I won't disappoint the hundreds of fans that turn to me and want to see me on a solo performance".
'Temptations' tour ran for 6 months, and had "terrific success"', as she says. Despite the success of the tour, Ofra stopped it because of her work on new albums and the preparation for the pre-Eurovision song contest. "The tour gave me a feeling that the people in Israel really love me", says Ofra. "The fact that people come and buy tickets and fill the halls to see Ofra Haza. Winning the pre-Eurovision completed for me the best year I had".
Click here for the show's program
December 1984 - Magic Queen
In Hanukah of 1984, at the end of December, Ofra began a new tour: 'Magic Queen'. At first, Ofra wanted to take part, as in every year, in Shirovision - a children's song festival that occurred every year in Hanukah, produced by Avraham Deshe Pashanell, as she did every year since they cancelled their contract because of her deep gratitude towards him, and even though she owed him nothing. Only after he told her he has no intention of having a new Shirovision this year, Ofra decided to have her own tour.
In the new tour Ofra performed 22 songs, and had 10 dancers and two famous magicians. Tickets for the opening shows in The Cinema of Tel-Aviv in in the Cinerama in Jerusalem were sold out."This is not a shoddy work, despite what some people tried to spread", says Ofra. "This is a tour well-planned, and the audience gets the Ofra he loves. I admit that if Pashanell had made a new Shirovision I would have been on it, because I agree to work only with him. This is a man I admire and love. The minute I heard he doesn't mean to make a show this year, I knew I will have one myself".
October 1986 - Ofra Haza on Stage
In October 1986 Ofra had a new tour - Ofra Haza on Stage. The tour was meant to follow her new album - 'Broken Days', that was released two months earlier. The new tour was indeed different from her previous tours.
'Ofra Haza on Stage' was considered a huge production in Israeli and European scale. Ofra went on with a new sound in pop music, also her songs from previous albums were also given new more modern sound.
Zedi Zarfati, the producer of the tour, wanted a grandiose pop performance on stage - many exits and returning of Ofra to stage, lot of dresses and tributes to the audience. Izhar Ashdot, who produces all the songs, wanted a modern disco sound in dizzying pace, and got it using 6 players, a lot of synthesized sounds and 3 background singers. For the first time Ofra began acting and dancing during her shows: "this time, not only do I sing the songs, but I also play them. I mean every word I sing".
The critics praised: "Ofra brings the local entertainment to a new era", says one of the newspapers.
The tour was a massive production, using tons of equipment, but because of lack of large halls for such appearances in Israel Ofra performed mostly in Tel-Aviv.
The tour was stopped after 4 months, when Ofra started working on performances outside of Israel.
1992 - Finger of God
"I love making concerts, I never use playbacks", says Ofra. "It was important for me to know who my audience really is. And this is what I did during my tour in America in March and April, with no public relations, even before Kirya was released in the US. I called the tour Finger of God. It was with my band, 5 players. A few clubs for warm up, four times sold out in the Bottom Line in New York, and halls of 1000-1500 people, mostly fill. In Minneapolis I performed on the night of the Oscar, while U2 performed in the local stadium, and I we were performing in a 1800 seats hall. 1200 tickets were sold. No one believed we did it".