Teaching our Children to Dream.
By LISA PALMIERI-BILLIG
September 15, 2005 : 7:12
A vibrant, and attractive Israeli woman born in Rome is capturing
the hearts and souls of Italians. Her name is Edna Angelica Calo
Livne and since the day in 1975 when she explained her imminent
aliya to a packed auditorium of Roman Jewry, she has been living in
Angelica and her husband
Yehuda devote their lives to reaching out to children - children of
kibbutzim; Israeli child victims of terrorism (bringing them
periodically on vacations to Italy through Yehuda's beresheet Le
Shalom Foundation); and Christian, Muslim, Druse and Caucasian-Circassan
children of Kibbutz Sassa's neighboring villages on the
Lebanese-Syrian border. These children are the actors of the Rainbow
(L'Arcobaleno) Theater productions, which focuses on pantomimed
dance, and expressing emotions through body language.
"Beresheet" and "Anne in
the Sky" are two of the latest productions performed at the Venice
Film Festival and in Rome during the September Week of Jewish
Culture. A two minute trailer of an animated three-dimensional Anne
Frank film with Anne's true face digitalized and superimposed, to be
completed in 2006, was also shown. The audiences, coached into
conversing with the actors after performances, were visibly moved.
"Beresheet" enacts the
eternal cycle of birth, war, death and renewal. Masked actors begin
as a formless mass of orange versus fuscia, clashing to the point of
near annihilation until they begin to touch and love each other.
Only then are all but two of the masks removed, because "some people
will always be unreachable", says Angelica. . .
"Anne in the Sky," is a freely interpreted Diary of Anne Frank,
conceived and written by Angelica Cal and Roberto Malini . While one
Anne writes at a desk, another dances the story, and yet another
off-stage girl's voice recites a selection of Anne's thoughts,
attesting to her great talent and humanity - the Anne that became
"the mother of all children" in Bergen-Belsen, the Anne "that would
have become a great writer had she been permitted to live."
Then comes the knock on the
door - masked and rigid SS officers. Auschwitz is projected onto the
screen. A sudden interruption and the children reappear, clothed in
white, entering like snowflakes. They confide their dreams to the
audience - "to find a cure for cancer," "to become a midwife," "to
build a house."
The knocks are heard again,
but this time Anne's voice commands, "No. Don't open the door. We
will not open the door."
The play is dedicated "to
Anne Frank and to all children who live in places where it is still
difficult to dream."
"We couldn't restrict it to ourselves," said Angelica in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post. "In addition to Jews the Shoah
exterminated gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally and physically
infirm, Christians, even Muslims. Anne's words of hope and belief in
humankind are universal."
Angelica recalls how her
Arab students told their families the story and came back saying
"It's beautiful. But is it true? Who was Hitler and what was the
Shoah?" Angela explained and then they said "We hope this never
happens again. We are happy to be part of this mission."
Angelica's message wells up
from inside her. In one breath she conveys a myriad of emotions: her
untarnished faith in Israel 's founding ideals, ("After Yom
Hazikaron commemorating the 20,000 victims of all our wars, my
stomach churns. But in the evening we all dress in white to welcome
Yom Hatzmaut, a gift of hope to our children"), her passion for
peace that transcends politics ("We don't want this war! I tell you,
take everything you want so long as you let us live in peace") her
fears, ("We need the [security] fence because we have the right and
duty to defend our children. Both Jews and Arabs become victims of
bus explosions") and her deep identification with the Shoah, ("When
I saw the heaps of hair in Maidanek, I was right there with them").