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‘After my sister’s death, I lost my naivety’

Nadine Wojakovski speaks to Israeli comedian, actor, director and playwright Hadar Galron about her latest project

    Hadar Galron
    Hadar Galron

    "Nothing will come out of this child,” said the primary school teacher to Hadar Galron’s parents when she was ten years old.

    She’d caught the child impersonating her, and was not impressed. Galron was “petrified that my parents believed her. I didn’t dare ask them. I just made a commitment to myself that I would prove her wrong.”

    After 25 years as a comedian, actor, director and playwright in Israel, one might think that the point has been proven. And now, she’s back in the UK, where she was born, with a tour alternating between lectures, comedy and a one-woman show, Whistle, which tackles the childhoods of second-generation Holocaust children who often felt “invisible” growing up in the shadows of their parents’ grief and trauma. 

    Galron’s tour, sponsored by WZO-UK, starts next week and takes in London, Dublin, Manchester, Cambridge and Leeds. It’s a mixture of lectures, mainly on feminist themes, and workshops. 

    Whistle (directed by Hana Vazana-Greenwald) gets its UK premier at Bushey. Israeli writer Jacob Buchan approached her to help him write  a  play  based on his life as the child of two Auschwitz survivors. His mother was Mengele’s secretary. 

    Originally, Galron planned to direct but, by the time it was written, she had become so immersed in the interchanging complex central characters of the mother and child, that she decided to perform it herself. 

    Her lectures tell her own life story, focusing on turning points of no-return in her life, including making aliyah from the UK at 13, where she’d grown up in an Orthodox community. These changes led Hadar to “a place where she could break the glass ceilings and give up her fear, without losing her faith.”

    This follows an impressive schedule of productions back home in Israel. She has just been touring the country, performing her staple one-woman stand up cabaret show Passion Killer, her take on the status of the Jewish woman throughout the ages — from Genesis to #MeToo. 

    She’s also enjoyed the success of her first Israeli TV series for adults, Harem, (written with Gadi Taub and Anat Barzilay). Based on a true story, it is a psychological drama about a cult run by a guru who lives with more than 20 enslaved “wives”. 

    Coupled with this are the sell-out two plays she wrote. 

    The first, Hasodot (The Secrets), is based on a 2007 movie that Galron wrote with director of the film, Avi Nesher, about Orthodox women at a seminary. And then there’s a new production of her first play Mikveh, which takes a peek at Orthodox women’s lives via the most intimate monthly ritual, at Israel’s national theatre Habima.

    Galron, 47, was sent to a religious high school in Tel Aviv after making aliyah. After army service, she studied theatre at Tel Aviv University. 

    There she began writing and performing professionally. 

    Her mission is to use her creative talents to challenge preconceived ideas, particularly about female Orthodoxy, which she understands first-hand, as she still identifies as Orthodox.

    In 2016, she lost her younger sister, Yaeli, to pancreatic cancer after a very short illness. After the shivah, she felt numb, she says, and “ wondered what on earth she could do now, if anything”.

    Out of the blue she got an offer to direct a musical show based on Israeli author David Grossman’s book Falling Out of Time, about the loss of his son Uri who died in Lebanon in 2006, serving in the Israeli army. 

    “I felt God was showing me how to turn this low pit in life, into a spiritual and cultural opportunity,” says Galron.

    She believes that grief and death have given her the ability, to deal with the Holocaust for the first time in her career. “Losing my little sister so tragically made me lose a deep naivety. We take our loved ones for granted until they are no longer there. 

    “Many Holocaust survivors, after tragically losing so many of their loved ones, could not permit themselves to love any more, even their own children, for fear of losing them again. As survivors die out, keeping the story of the Holocaust alive has never been more important.”

    For tour details call 0208 371 5338 

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