At the heart of a very old city named Acco, on the Mediterranean sea, there was once a well known mental hospital. Many different patients were hospitalized there. One day a film maker came with his crew to film a documentary about the daily life within the thick walls of the notorious hospital. It was winter 1976.
The extraordinary documentary in black and white he filmed revealed not only the hidden life and routine of the hospital but also the fragile and tender situation of it’s surroundings. The film presented to the viewers an insight into the history of one patient while observing the whole society of that time. Acco was already the kind of microcosms that later all Israel would become.
40 years later, at the heart of the very same old city, two artists, one Arab one Jewish, both of them born in Acco, Firas Roby & David Maayan, met and created a theatre performance named ‘Observation – 1976’. This theatre work was inspired, of course, by the old black & white documentary that had a resembling title ‘Observation – old Acre 1976’.
‘Observation 1976’ offers many observation circles, woven and occurring simultaneously, starting with the winter of 1976 and leading until these very days.
‘Observation 1976’ was awarded Best Performance at the 2016 Acco Theater Festival.
- Created, directed and designed by | Firas Roby and David Maayan
- Concept | David Maayan
- Text | as it appears in the documentary
- Documentry | Yehuda Jadd Ne’eman
- Dramaturgy |Angelika Kisser Maayan
- Video | Firas Roby
- Performed by | Claudia Dulitchi, Rachel Getz-Salomon, Miri Lavie, Nurit Novick, Dr. Zmira Poran – Zion, Rachel Keshet, Karin Shtrang, Dr. Natalie Turjeman
- And with the participation of | Firas Roby, David Maayan, Ehab Bahus, Mahmoud Hilwani
- Production | Firas Roby, David Maayan
- Executive producer | Ehab Bahus
First of all to thank the two theatre creators of this work and all participants in the performance, it expressed confidence in me as an observer, believed in my patience, my openness, and my ability as a human being to contain a deep fabric of shaking and evoking echoes , of a complex stage creation . It is not every day that we the spectators get as such confidence – and for that I say thank you.
It is a theatre work that, by any measure, which in my opinion must reach every person living in Israel- no matter which is his or her’s religion , who’s desiring to understand the sources of pain and injustice in our lives complicated piece of this bloody country …
Dr. Revital Eytan, Nilli Dagan blog (October 2016)
Firas Roby is a theatre director and filmmaker. Born in 1973 in the old city of Acre, Israel/Palestine, Firas graduated from the Film department of the Minshar School of Art in Tel-Aviv. Firas’s works include filmmaking, theatre directing, writing and stage and light design for theatre and dance. Amongst his works: writing and directing the short film “Wajd”, which was awarded best short film at the 2014 Tyre International Short Film Festival, Lebanon; created the theater plays: “Here&now”, “Gypsy wedding”, “Zaatar poison”.
The most complete performance that was seen was “Observation 1976” by Firas Roby & David Maayan. They revived in a community centre the old psychiatric hospital operated in Acco. The two artists were bringing in to the space a ‘human warhead’ of Eight women performers wearing many layers of clothes. Removing a layer of clothing and adding accessory or hairstyle were the only change that was necessary for them to play manically at this ingenious theatrical ceremony and to present the various participants appearing in the documentary, to cry their cry or ridicule their insights. They gave absolutely and sometimes frightening, their whole mental and physical entity , from head to toe, …
Yair Ashkenazi, Haaretz (October 2016)
Five fundamental guidelines were kept in order to create ‘Observation – 1976’:
- 1. The only texts used in the performance are the same used in the documentary.
- 2. The only characters appearing in the performance are characters of the documentary.
- 3. The facial/body expressions used by the performers are the ones of the people appearing in the documentary.
- 4. Various clips from the original documentary are projected to keep a reference and to support the dramatic flow of the life theatre performance.
- 5. Like in the documentary, the observation circles are kept.
David Maayan was born in Acco, Israel (1953). Studied acting and directing at Tel Aviv University (1976-1980). Traveled abroad (1992/3) for further education and experience to Odin Teatret, Denmark, Piccolo Teatro di Pontedera, Potlatch Teatro, Italy, India. Inspired by the great theatre groups of that time he returned and founded the Acco Theatre Centre (1994). During the next fifteen years he established a new form of theatre language that was a result of leaving and creating theatre in the Arabic part of the city of Acco dealing with the Israeli society and its fundamental structure in a subversive artistic way. The most significant work he created was Arbeit Macht Frei (1991- 1996) that made his work known worldwide. He continued his artistic development in Kibutz Cabri by forming the Concept of The Family Table, (1998 -2000) and founded the Shlomi Theatre Centre together with his ensemble. (2000 -2004). He moved to Vienna ,with his family, to live and to create some theatre projects (in Vienna and Linz 2005-2015) and always kept involved with the Alternative theatre field in Israel. 2004 – 2016. Together with his colleague, (Firas Roby), they created the performance ‘Observation – 1976.. David Maayan created many original theatre performances and projects . He was leading many theatre workshops and self development meetings and seminars. He is also a writer. In his long career he was rewarded with some awards and prizes.