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Pnina Gary: An Israeli Love Story
By David Or

At 81, playwright Pnina Gary presents An Israeli Love Story – a monument to “all the wonderful young men who were prepared to die so that the State of Israel could be born”

Grandma, Were There Only Good People Back Then?

“It all started from a ‘Roots’ project my grandson had to write in sixth grade,” Pnina Gary (81) explains how An Israeli Love Story was conceived. “I told him about my adolescent years in Nahalal, the moshav in the Jezreel Valley where I was born and raised. Afterwards, his essay was read out in class and his classmates didn’t believe that was how life had really been. The disparity between the values on which we were raised on the moshav and those of my grandson’s city friends was so vast that I decided it was important to tell them more about what happened here in the beginning. For them, even the War of Independence is distant Jewish history.

“I told him the story of my youth, from 1942 to 1948, and then I also wrote the story as a monodrama, the only way I could express myself,” Gary continues, “but I buried it in a drawer. I was nervous and didn’t have the courage. It was only after the Second Lebanon War, when two stories closely resembling mine were suddenly published, that I thought to myself, this is not just my personal story. It is the story of each and every one of us. In an era of cynicism and migration from our country I wanted to erect a modest monument to commemorate those wonderful young men who were really and truly prepared to die so that the State of Israel could be born.

“This play is dedicated to the memory of my friend and lover Eli Ben-Zvi [son of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of the State of Israel],” Gary reveals. “He was a Palmachnik (a member of the Palmach – the unofficial army of the Jewish settlement in pre-state Israel) and a member of Kibbutz Beit Keshet, who was killed in the War of Independence in 1948. The monodrama tells the story of how we met and fell in love, and how he died a few days before we were to be married.”

Who did you choose to portray you?

“I looked for a young actress that would fit the image of the young woman. After seeing several end-of-year productions at various drama schools, I discovered Adi Bialsky in Yoram Loewenstein’s school. There was something genuine and captivating in her acting and I instantly sensed that she had the character and personality I was looking for.”

How has it been received?

“The audience comes by word of mouth, people are moved, they laugh and they cry. The monodrama has become a cult play for those who lived the period. When my soldier-grandson saw the play, he asked somewhat cynically: ‘Grandma, were there only ‘good people’ in those days?’ Of course not. There were ‘draft dodgers’ then, too, and there was a black market. But the people I knew, the generation of the first pioneers, members of the youth movements, of the Palmach, I remember as being like that. I wasn’t exaggerating.”


From: “Last Night at the Theatre”, Michael Handelzalts, Ha’aretz, 4.7.2008
First, this is an Israeli love story with autobiographic roots: the story of a young woman who grows up on a moshav in pre-state Israel, falls in love with a handsome Palmachnik, follows him to a kibbutz in the Lower Galilee, and on her wedding day loses him on the altar of the State-to-be.
It is both a fragment of history-nostalgia, which is a personal life experience, and a story of love and loss in time of war, which is universal, and one cannot remain indifferent to it.
…Adi Bialsky has a captivating presence…

From: “Theatre”, Shai Bar-Yaakov, Yedioth Ahronoth
This is a monodrama that evokes identification. It presents a fascinating life story, and the tragic aspect of the story is amplified by the very notion that this story remains relevant to this day.

From: “Theatre Review”, Ben-Ami Feingold, Makor Rishon, Hatzofeh, 14.7.2008
With great skill, tact and emotional restraint Pnina Gary has managed to circumvent the melodramatic trap that lies in wait for every ‘real’ story that oftentimes contains not only art, but also a little gossip.
What makes this play so effective and relevant is first and foremost what happens on the stage; a drama in every sense of the word, which, of course, creates an interesting dialog between life and theatre. […] The historical, Israeli background is intelligently presented. Not as sentimental nostalgia or a Zionistic pageant, but as an authentic, believable and convincing experience.
…The performance is excellent in every respect. Pnina Gary has directed the play in the correct tone and style in terms of rhythm and atmosphere, and displays sensitivity in her ability to present the issues as living, relevant, authentic and direct theatre, without the personal-biographical involvement dictating what and how to direct, and at the same time as a moving, very touching experience… Adi Bielsky (daughter of  Zeev Bielski Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization ) as Margalit shapes a credible and authentic figure with personality and presence, as both an adolescent girl and a young woman. She presents different characters and moods in a style that comprises a sophisticated combination of human truth and impeccable theatrical design against the backdrop of those days. Living and direct theatre that is impressive and moving here and now; a rare achievement for an actress that is rarely seen here. In short, not just another play, but a not-to-be-missed experience.

Contact & Booking Information

Contact name; Hani- Quality theatre
e-mail : hania@actcom.net.il   
Phone; 972.3.6443559
Fax: 972.3.6440720
Website: www.hanitheater.com  

Pnina Gary e-mail: pgary@012.net.il

Givatayim Theatre Israel http://www.t-g.co.il/main/siteNew/index.php?langId=1

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Source: Israel Post

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  • Pnina Gary

    Adi Bielsky as Margalit

    in An Israeli Love Story

    Eli Ben-Zvi

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