October Press 2008


Israeli theater wins prize in Italy

Oct 26, 2008


Angelica Edna Calò Livnè, the director and founder of the Beresheet LaShalom Foundation and the Rainbow Theatre, was awarded a prize for her commitment to "peace and dialogue between peoples" at the Carical Grinzane Cavour Foundation's prize ceremony for Euro-Mediterranean culture, in the southern Italian Calabrian town of Cosenza, on October 14.

The foundation's raison d'etre is to expand networks of understanding and friendship between Israel's different religious and ethnic communities.

Calò Livnè's troupe of 10 Israeli teenagers - Jews, Muslims, Catholics, atheists, Druse and Circassians from the villages surrounding Kibbutz Sasa - performed a pantomime called Beresheet, tracing stages of birth, fear of diversity, war and destruction, and finally reconciliation, friendship and love between two clans that concludes with everyone onstage symbolically removing their masks. Warm applause came from the audience of 800 Cosenza townspeople who filled all available seats at the city's historic theater.

They were there to take part in a prize ceremony for three Italian intellectuals, three women writers from Iran, Albania and Italy, and for Calò Livnè and her cowinner, Afghanistan's Princess India, who was chosen for her outstanding humanitarian work in her country.

Iranian winner Marina Nemat's autobiographical novel, Prisoner of Teheran, tells her painful story of imprisonment and torture as a student of 16, a forced marriage to her torturer and her eventual escape to a new life in Canada where she now lives with her family. "I feel I have a lot in common with Holocaust survivors," she said. "The post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome never leaves us."

Her next novel will be about survivors of other traumas - Rwanda, Somalia and the like.

The second writing award went to Elvira Dones's prize-winning novel, Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin), which explores the lives of Albanian women in mountain-tribe families who live without men. There, a woman may take an oath to live as a man in all effects, remaining chaste, hunting, fighting and wearing men's clothes. This becomes a way of saving families, but also of avoiding the humiliations still associated with being a woman in certain parts of Albania.

Elvira Dones now lives in Washington DC and her novel will soon become a film.

Lucrezia Lerro, a young Italian writer who has already collected several literary awards, won the prize for her novel, La più bella del mondo, which focuses on the psychological aspects of violence toward women in Italy.

THE PRESTIGIOUS Grinzane Cavour Foundation, many of whose award winners have subsequently received Nobels, has granted special attention to Israel throughout its long history. Past winners include David Grossman, Shimon Peres and Aharon Appelfeld, who was awarded a prize in Turin in July. The Cosenza ceremony was begun last year by the foundation's president, Mario Bozzo, with a prize for Amos Oz.

Calò Livnè, a vibrant Israeli writer, director and teacher - and kibbutznik of Italian origin - is well known in Italy, where she and her troupe perform frequently. Her young Israeli student actors from the Galilee willingly share their life-transforming experiences by chatting from the stage with the audience after each show. They offer stories of how their preconceptions were shattered as they became familiar with the "other" by living and working together.

Calò Livnè also organizes Jewish-non-Jewish pairs who teach art, theater and ecology in Israeli schools during a year of volunteer social work preceding military service for Jews, and before university for Arabs.

The prize committee told The Jerusalem Post that it had searched for a Jewish and/or Israeli female writer who could become a partner in dialogue with the other women chosen for their outstanding contributions to different nations. They discovered that Calò Livnè's theater was "dedicated to dialogue between different cultures, and since the basic values of her show are identical to those of our prize, we decided to invite her theater and award her a prize," said Giuliano Soria, the president of the jury.

The Grinzane Cavour Foundation seeks new ways of expanding as an educational and cultural tool. With the help of the Italian Foreign Ministry and other governmental, international, educational and non-profit institutions, Soria launched the foundation's first Africa Prize in Addis Ababa last week for "an emerging young writer, to have his or her works translated into Italian and published."

But "next year in Jerusalem" is Soria's new aim. He is dreaming of inventing a new Grinzane Cavour prize to encourage creativity among the many diverse cultures of Jerusalem.



October Press 2008








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