My Week: Alexa Christopher-Daniels

November 24, 2016 22:58

● My week in Israel begins at sunset on Saturday. As the traffic gradient darkens to the week-time rush of cars, motorbikes and Breslevmobiles, I sit down to my weekly Shabbat blog Trial By Fire – detailing the ins and outs of life as ola chadasha and Artistic Director of a British-Israeli cultural platform. By Sunday morning feedback has led me to meet an up-and-coming singer-songwriter in the obligatory coffee shop. She agrees to create a Hebrew/English hybrid for our next British-Israeli Tel Aviv event and we share the baked cruvit – an entire cauliflower, the appearance and effect of which earns it our "brain food" branding.

● Mid-Monday I take the sherut to the new central Bus Station – home to Nico Nitai's Karov Theatre and the She Festival 2013: To be his daughter - a promenade circle of performance rooms by British and Israeli female artists inspired by their relationships with their fathers. Nico's daughter, the founder and co-director of She festival Dorit Nitai Neman and I develop our "rooms", focusing on their relevance to forthcoming audiences in Leeds. What can they glean from switch between Oedipus and his daughter Antigone to a fighting/loving banter between a real-life father and daughter who are also actor and director.

● On Tuesday I go to the apartment of Nico Nitai himself where we work on his English pronunciation for SHE. Nico, 80, informs me that tomorrow will be "Shakespeare's birthday, Shakespeare's death day, the anniversary of when I arrived in Israel, and of the first time I went back." There are amazing photos of older Romanian and newer Israeli parents, children, grandchildren, all amidst the remnants of a theatrical career still striving to confront, evade and forget life pre-Aliyah over fifty years ago.

● At some point on Wednesday I rescue my own dad, playwright and former New End Theatre artistic director Brian Daniels, from the fragranced belly of the Crown Plaza and whisk him into the Karov for a workshop. We replay a cathartic exercise with questions about our mutual empowerment, working the responses into a performable structure. I love showing dad the full-on eclecticism of the bus station, though many Israelis still sadly fear the area with its influx of refugees and asylum seekers.

● Israeli-born Erika Linor Kutzuk and I discuss the layout for her exhibition in She. Raised by Ashkenazi parents, her intimate photography tells a complex story of daughterhood that leaves me moved. The open-plan home/studio in the Shapira district is filled with inspiration, work and materials and, sipping orange juice from a swing hanging from the upper gallery, I contemplate the weekend ahead.

● Friday morning is taken up with content-writing for Gems' new website and re-drafting promo material after Skyping with two British participants including poet/Paralympic skier Dr Jo Willougby. The lull of late Friday afternoon is welcomed with wine with friends in Florentin and on the morning of Shabbat my boyfriend and I sit in the park and eat Alexa-improvised vegan canapés before heading to his grandparents in Haifa. It's an effort to muster excitement about leaving for two weeks, but when I think of what's gone before and what lies ahead; the luxury not only to live but to create between these two countries, peoples, cultures and languages, I feel truly baalat mazal.

Alexa Christopher-Daniels is artistic director of Gems of Mazal and Meow Kacha, and co-director of the British-Israeli She Festival 2013: To be his daughter, May 15-18, at the Heart Centre, Headingley, Leeds. Book tickets online here

November 24, 2016 22:58

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