A tale of two belly buttons

Pupik is about friendship and much more


Pupik - Yiddish and colloquial Hebrew for 'belly button' - is a theatrical performance that tells the story of immigration, adaptation and life long friendship through dance, movement, humour and various spoken languages.

This is a story of two women, performed by London-born Naomi Silman and Tel Aviv-born Yael Karavan, whose own lives, journeys and families' backgrounds were the inspiration for the performance. 

Yael Karavan, now living in Brighton and the founder of the Karavan Ensemble, and Naomi Silman, who lives in Brazil and is a member of acclaimed company Lume Teatro, met in London as students at The Ecole Phillippe Gaulier in London, 22 years ago. Although they worked together on various projects over the years, this production is their first joint collaboration as creators and performers.

In Pupik they tell the story - using a mixture of English, Hebrew, French and Portugese - of two women living on opposite sides of the world but tied unconditionally to each other by their deep friendship, striking similarities and common ancestors.

"We try to unearth what connects us despite our differences. We want to take the audience on a journey through time and space, unveiling the layers of their personal stories and ancestral backgrounds, tracing a line from the personal to the universal in the attempt to tackle some vital contemporary questions about identity, roots, displacement, borders, and the concept of a home," says Naomi.

Even though both Naomi and Yael are Jewish, and the performance is based on their own backgrounds - Yael's ancestors hailed from Eastern Europe and she herself travelled the world with her family as a young girl due to her father's job as a sculptor, while Naomi made aliyah with her mother at the age of nine. 

They emphasise that it is not necessarily and exclusively the story of the Jewish people. "Despite being inspired by the concept of the 'Wandering Jew', the need to adapt to other cultures, languages and countries is very common these days by so many different people.

"There are so many refugees, for example, from many different cultures, and many people who will find themselves  'foreigners forever', eternal Immigrants. They, too, will have stories of nomadic lives, or displacement and of adaptation," says Yael.

The show ends with the two women being physically connected through a red ribbon that is attached to their belly buttons, their 'Pupik', as a symbolic element of a strong bond. "The ribbon is of course a metaphorical connection, a link through our very core. We look inside ourselves and at each other to find meaning and to bring that meaning from our own personal selves to the stories of others," says Naomi. 

Pupik is at the  Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, on 24th and 25th July at 8pm.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive