The presence of Israel's Habima Theatre in London next month for the Globe Theatre's international Shakespeare festival has prompted well-publicised calls for a boycott. Less attention has been directed at another Israeli theatre event, taking place in London this weekend. The Tik-sho-ret company founded in 2005 by London-based Israeli Ariella Eshed, will be staging 5 Plays, A World of Stories - rehearsed readings of a quintet of new works by emerging Israeli writers. The works range from the absurdist and the naturalistic to the downright strange. And, refreshingly, they are not all about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I have tried to reflect different subjects and styles of Israeli writing," says Eshed. "This is the first time we have brought writers to London. Instead of a rehearsed reading of one play, which is what we have done in the past, we are taking scenes from all five plays and presenting them as one show. British directors and actors will be able to exchange views with Israeli writers."
Promoting Israeli work in a country where all things Israeli seem to attract opposition must be one of the hardest jobs in culture. "It's not easy," admits Eshed. "If you send an Israeli play to a theatre and they don't accept it, you can't say, 'is it because it's Israeli?', no matter what you might suspect."
She would rather not be drawn on the controversy surrounding Habima, except to say that by boycotting Israeli artists, protesters are attempting to silence the very voices with whom they may agree. "My personal take is that artists in Israel are the ones most likely to criticise government policy. By trying to stop them coming over, the protesters are serving the wrong purpose," she says.