About PuppetCinema and Itim Ensemble
Using a cinematographic aesthetic, a documentarian’s eye and the tropes of cinema verité, Zvi Sahar shapes the audience’s focus with a strong and steady hand. He pulls back the curtains to reveal and highlight the backstage business. The audience has the feeling that the show is being created right in front of their eyes! Reality and fantasy are blurred and a sort of double vision occurs. But make no mistake, it’s all about the story.
Itim Ensemble was founded 30 years ago by theatre director, choreographer and Israel Prize winner Rina Yerushalmi and stage designer Moshe Sternfeld (d. 1994). Zvi Sahar (Salt of the Earth, Suddenly, Gulliver, Matt & Planet Egg) has been serving as the ensemble’s artistic director since 2018.
- Matt (2019) – 6 participants, 70 minutes
- Salt of the Earth (2014) – 5 participants, 75 minutes
- Gulliver (2017) – 5 participants, 55 minutes
- Planet Egg (re-staged 2018) – 3 participants, 50 minutes- suitable also for children
- Planet Egg, 19 May 2019, International Puppet Theatre Festival – Materia Magica, Klaipeda, Lithuania
- Planet Egg, 22-24 February 2019, TIFA – Taiwan International Festival of Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
- Salt of the Earth, 5-6 December 2018, NET Festival, Moscow, Russia
- Gulliver, 1 September 2018, Shakespeare Theatre Gdańsk, Poland
- Suddenly, 6-9 December 2017, BAM Next Wave Festival, NY, USA
- Suddenly, 1-2 December 2017, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Centre, MD, USA
- Salt of the Earth, 9 October 2016, KRT Reminiscence Festival, Krakow, Poland
- Salt of the Earth, 4 July 2016, PUF Festival, Pula, Croatia
- Planet Egg, 4 June 2016, Treff Festival, Tallinn, Estonia
- Salt of the Earth, 3 November 2015, UNIDRAM Festibal, Potsdam, Germany
- Salt of the Earth, October 2014, BAM Next Wave Festival, NY, USA
In his unique PuppetCinema stage language that interweaves theatre, cinema, and puppetry, director Zvi Sahar and Itim Ensemble presents MATT, the first ever stage adaptation featuring Janusz Korczak’s iconic character and world.
The story focuses on the courage it takes to re-envision a different kind of civilized society, one free of political power games and mind-boggling prejudice. What happens when this vision meets a world that has no place for such a dream? Echoing Korczak’s own dramatic biography, this one hundred year old poignant tale soars with history lessons that are still deeply relevant and resonant today.
On a stark stage covered with toy blocks, we watch the world of Little King Matt, the boy King, as it takes shape, collapses and reforms. The show invites us to embark on Matt’s journey in the wake of a lost childhood, of resistance, failure, and experimentation, a moment before the sobering reality of adulthood hits.
World premier – 7 June 2019, within the Israel Festival
Salt of the Earth
Salt of the Earth based on the influential Israeli novel The Road to Ein Harod by Amos Kenan tells the story of a rebel novelist fleeing from a military coup in his country to the last free refuge, Ein Harod, rumored to be the last bastion of resistance.
Through the eyes of the hero—a faceless, nameless, Bunraku puppet—the audience sees the tragic cycle of war via a miniature city where plastic tanks barrel down paper streets amid a Middle Eastern landscape created out of one thousand pounds of salt. A specially rigged camera zooms through the tiny sets, simultaneously feeding the footage onto a large movie screen hanging above the city.
A gracefully mechanical dance, PuppetCinema’s Salt of the Earth combines live film making and theater, and tells the story of a land that never rests from fighting, and of people in an endless battle to survive. As the show is created, destroyed, and rebuilt live on stage, the audience bears witness to the need for self-preservation and the lengths we go to fight for freedom.
“It presents a vision of hope diminished, a hope for people… living as equals, partaking in a communal connection to the land that transcends their individual desire to own it”
Joshua Forst Forward (October 2014)
“Blending puppetry, live action and video, the play has the quality of a dark dream…..Captivating…”
Laura Collins Hughes New York Times (October 2014)
“The theatrical transposition, if one could say that, is magnificent and fascinating… The result is magical… Salt of the Earth succeeds for an hour and a half to bring together in some way these two art forms and to make of them a new one which always responds to that higher art form which is the foundation of all the others and which is summed up in “telling stories”.
Laura Caparrotti La VOCE di New York (October 2014)
“… a space adventure puppet show that is quirky, fun, suspenseful and surprisingly touching.”
Simultaneously performed and filmed live with a live score of Foley Sound, and projected video feed, PuppetCinema’s inaugural show, Planet Egg creates both a theatrical intimacy with miniature puppets and a cinematic grandness worthy of an epic space odyssey. The visual world of Planet Egg is comprised of found and organic objects, crafted creations, and electronic parts who reside on a moving Lazy Susan like contraption.
A love story in deep space, Planet Egg features two unlikely friends, The Robot Cosmonaut and a Scallion alien creature. A herd of aggressive mushrooms and dangerous molten lava (volcanic fried eggs) are their foils. The story is told with minimal language on a desolate interplanetary fantasy world with creatures who are all good, all cute and all… hungry.
Based on Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels
After sixteen years at sea, Lemuel Gulliver returns home. Isolated in his room, he refuses to meet any human beings, and talks only with two horses that he bought on his trip, wondering about the fate of the human species.
After five years of self-imposed isolation, he tell his story for the first time to his wife.
Today, he invites you, only you, to listen.
PuppetCinema’s Gulliver (premiered August 2017), a modern morality play and retelling of the Jonathan Swift satire Gulliver’s Travels, in which wooden table, origami ships and a stage flooded with water, expose the inner sanctum of Dr. Gulliver as he intakes humanity in all its glorious vulnerability. His nightmare is our adventure as we force perspectives never before seen. Giants, savages, artists- judge for yourself who is the most horrible creature of us all.