Without further delay, but most probably with edits and an added photo of wonderful Ya’ara, I proudly present an interview with Ya’ara Messika, recently graduated student from Habsor Comprehensive High School, Eshkol Region.
Interview with Ya’ara Messika, member of The Moustache Theatre, Eshkol Community Youth Theatre, in the Western Negev.
We spoke about the Theatre and about the play ‘Tzeva Adom’.
Judih: Hi Ya’ara. Could you introduce yourself?
Ya’ara: My name is Ya’ara Messika. I’m 17 years old. I live in Pri-gal in the Negev. My main interests revolve around theatre. I also write poems and short stories for myself.
J: Tell me about The Mustache Theatre – (Teatron haSafam) – what is it, how long has it been active?
Y: It’s a community youth theatre and it’s about 7 years old. Each year, the kids decide what play they are going to produce. Then a writer comes and writes down our ideas and the stories that come up. Basically, the work is cooperative – the actors work with the writer.
J: Which professionals do you work with?
Y: a professional writer, a director and a choreographer. Our director is Ya’acov Amsalam, a very good actor and director.
J:What play did you do last year?
Y: We did “That’s How It Is” about families and family relationships.
J: Where did you perform last year?
Y: We performed at the Eshkol Municipal Hall and at a youth festival.
J: How does that compare to this year’s performances?
Y: This year we performed three times: at the Eshkol Hall, at the youth festival and a third performance for Ma’ale Habsor and Habsor High Schools. We have a fourth performance coming up on August 5th for the Military.
J: I know that some of your performers are out of the country, or some may be unavailable. How will you put on the show without them?
Y: Since the play is made up of short skits, if someone isn’t here, we can either replace him or her or simple leave out their segment.
J: Tell me about “Tzeva Adom”. How did it begin?
Y: Well, it’s a funny story. The very place we work in, a qassam fell, just about the week we had to decide on a new play. And we moved to a shelter to continue our work temporarily. It was quite obvious that that was going to be what we were going to talk about. Because a lot of us had experience and it seemed to be the best topic.
J: How did you begin work on the script?
Y: Improvisation – we did a lot of improvisation and took everything that came up, showed it on stage and then the group decided what would work best for the play.
J: Is there anything you want to add about the process?
Y: It’s a very communal process – we all work together and everyone gets a chance to speak his mind – no one gets left out. It ‘s like a family.
J: You had a monologue, Ya’ara. Can you tell me about it?
Y: Well, my monologue is about a mother talking about her son. My mother told me a story about a kid she taught, who had a qassam fall on his house . Well, he moved away and then a qassam fell on his new place. And he said that the qassams were after him. That sentence burned itself into my head and I turned it into a monologue about the parents and how they deal with kids, who don’t really know what’s going on.
J: How did you prepare for your role as the mother?
Y: It was easy for me to get into the character because the monologue is mine and I’m very connected to what was said. And my mother helped me a lot. Also I heard a lot from many other parents with small children, because everyone talks about it. People tend to talk a lot about kids when they talk about qassams because it’s a very tense topic. All this going on around me helped me prepare.
J: Why did you wear white?
Y: It was a director’s decision. We all wore loose, comfortable clothes, because those clothes represent peace and calmness and the topic we’re talking about is war and anger. We wanted to make a dramatic contrast.
J: The costumes were red, black and white. Did you choose white for yourself?
Y: The director thought white was better for the character I was playing.
J: At a certain point in the play, the sound system wasn’t adequate and it was hot in the theatre. Some kids in the audience weren’t listening. Was that the 1st time that something like that happened while you were performing?
Y: Two years ago in the Bat Yam Festival, kids got up and threw a pencil sharpener and an eraser onto the stage! That happens with teenagers. They can lose patience if they can’t hear well or if the topic doesn’t interest them. Kids sometimes do stupid things on stage. That’s just how it is.
J: After the show, Aliza Ben Yehuda, technical advisor of the group and professional youth counselor, proposed opening up a dialogue between the actors and the audience. She asked for people to offer their responses to the show: if the topic spoke to them. When no one volunteered, she asked a few of the actors to offer their reactions to what they had performed. What did you think of that?
Y: I did not participate in that segment. I felt very offended. I think that when people don’t show respect for what is done on stage, they don’t deserve my respect. We were there for them. We weren’t paid, we were invited to perform for the schools. I didn’t think we should initiate a dialogue if they didn’t respect us.
I think it’s a good idea to have a dialogue but not with that kind of audience.
J: Was that the first time that Aliza had suggested the post-performance discussion?
Y: It was the first time. When we were in the festival, we didn’t have the time and in the other performance it wasn’t appropriate.
I think for the dialogue to work, people have to be prepared. You need to know who you’re talking to and what it is you want to say. It could work in the future.
J: What is Aliza’s role in the Theatre?
Y: Aliza is there almost all the time, she feeds the process. She takes care of us, she handles the technical stuff backstage and in rehearsal. She’s isn’t there to act as a counselor, she’s there strictly for the theatre.
J: Do you think the Mustache Theatre will be doing this play next year? Do you think it will still be relevant in the light of the current cease-fire?
Y: I hope so, it’s a very interesting topic. The play opens the eyes of people who don’t know what it’s really like. It gives them an idea, albeit a satiric view, but still it gives a good idea of what we’re living. Along with that, we live so far away and we’re only a community theatre, so I’m not sure how many opportunities we’ll get to perform ‘Tzeva Adom’.
J: What was your favourite part of the play?
Y: That’s hard, there were a lot of parts I really liked. I like the birthday party. It shows a real situation. It could really happen.
J: I loved the way the little girl was dressed (she was totally padded with a crash helmet). It was very comic. I wish there was a clip of that scene on youtube.
Y: There is a promo of the play up on Youtube. It gives an idea of the play.
J: Okay, I’ll include the link here.
J: What are your plans for next year?
Y: I’m going to do my Military Service, probably in the Intelligence Unit.
J: Okay! Good luck to you, Ya’ara. Thanks so much for talking to me.
Y: You’re welcome. I hope I’ve helped you.