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Author Topic: Theater Professor in Israel fired - please sign petition and circulate to colleagues
Performance Anxiety
Babbler # 3474

posted 26 January 2004 02:52 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post
Here is a shocking story that needs immediate action. Please do spread the word and make your voice heard.

Dear colleagues:
> Please join me in supporting joint Jewish-Palestinian theater work and
> freedom of artistic expression by signing and circulating the letter of
> support for Avraham Oz that follows. For many years, Oz has been the
> director of theater at Haifa University, where Jewish and Arab
> students
> have consistently worked together on important, challenging
> plays,creating
> what Oz calls "a little island of coexistence, in which Jewish and Arab
> students created and studied the theater together, in harmony and
> peace."Oz
> is also an outspoken peace activist and critic of the Sharon
> government.
> Last week, after objecting to a production Oz presented in Arabic,
> HU's Dean
> of Humanities, Yossi Ben-Artzi, abruptly removed Oz from his post as
> director and asserted that the theater has no standing in the
> university.
> The international theater community needs to speak out in support of
> Oz and
> the work and vision he promotes. Please write to the email address
> below to
> sign the statement -- and please ask others in the theater community
> to do
> the same.
> On a personal note: Three years ago, I saw some of Oz's work in Haifa.
> I had
> been invited to speak at a conference on women and violence in the
> theater
> sponsored by Tel Aviv University, with the participation of Oz's
> program. I
> gave a talk on Maria Irene Fornes, in part to introduce her work for an
> audience that was about to see a production Oz had directed of her
> powerful
> play "Conduct of Life". The title was rendered in Hebrew as "Moderate
> Physical Pressure" -- the kind of torture the Israeli high court had
> deemed
> legal. It was a decent student production dealing with pressing issues
> in a
> courageous and forthright way. Such work must continue.
> yours,
> Alisa Solomon
> Please sign and circulate the text that follows and return your
> signature and identifying title
> to
> If you wish to write directly to these administrators, their addresses
> are:
> Professor Aaron Ben-Zeev, Rector, University of Haifa
> Fax +972-4-8342101, email:
> Professor Yossi Ben-Artzi, Dean of Humanities
> Fax +972-4-8240128, email
> We are a group of writers, scholars, and individuals associated
> with the theatre, who are writing to express our strong opposition to
> the
> suspension of Haifa University Theatre Company for political reasons.
> This unexpected closure can only be understood as a political
> opposition
> to the world-renown Israeli-Arab cooperative productions that have
> garnered international respect for the company.
> We write to protest the removal of Professor Avraham Oz as the
> Director of the Haifa University Theatre Company. The company has long
> had
> a reputation as a model of Israeli-Arab cooperation, and has assumed a
> stellar international reputation under the stewardship of Professor
> Oz. We
> call upon the University to support Avraham Oz in his current
> position,and
> to honor the extraordinarily fine work that he has accomplished there.
> From our perspective, it would seem that Professor Oz is being
> punished for
> his political views, or for the fact that theatre sometimes foregrounds
> issues that have complex political meanings. We oppose the effort at
> political censorship constituted by your acts.
> This unexpected closure can only be understood as a political
> opposition to the Israeli-Arab cooperative productions and for the fact
> that he chose to put some productions on in Arabic as well as in
> Hebrew. We
> call upon you to recognize the important work of this company and
> reinstate
> the director, empowering him to run the theatre and its highly valued
> work
> as he has. That could only be a credit to you and the University of
> Haifa,
> and restore faith abroad that Israeli educational and cultural
> institutions
> can embody principles of intellectual and artistic freedom.

From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
Babbler # 3474

posted 03 February 2004 08:31 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post
This just in from the OTL:

Dear Professor Aaron Ben-Zeev (Rector, University of Haifa) & Professor Yossi Ben-Artzi (Dean of Humanities),

I am writing today in support of director and theatrician Avraham Oz, who I am informed has been fired from his posting at Haifa University due to his "controversial" theatrical work. As the Artistic Facilitator of the Optative Theatrical Laboratories it is my job to theatrically challenge hegemonic thought-patterns and oppressive systems, and this case would appear to fall within the mandate I am obliged to uphold.

Censorship, bias, and discrimination are matters we do not take lightly at the OTL, and have run into similar instances embedded in academia in the past. For example:

I am urging you as a theatrician concerned about the erosion of theatre as an agent for positive social change to reconsider your actions. The work of Mr. Oz is extremely important in terms of realizing a peaceful resolution in your troubled land. To deny him his expression and artistic craftsmanship signifies another nail in the coffin of everlasting peace in your region. Denying progressive artists outlets will only result in further exacerbating the oppressive situation that already exists. By asserting that the theater has no standing in the university, you deny the power of the only medium that encompasses all mediums. To quote the world's most famous theatrical theorist Augusto Boal: "The being becomes human when theatre is created". As the head of a "humanities" department, your actions effectively negate your own position.

Once more, I urge you to reconsider. Far from marginalizing Mr. Oz, he should be promoted for his vision and courage.

Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss this further.


Donovan King, Artistic Facilitator

Optative Theatrical Laboratories

"Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it. " - Bertolt Brecht

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From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged

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