"People of the Spirit"

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Born in Israel, Guy Ben-Aharon is the Producing Artistic Director and Founder of Israeli Stage, an initiative dedicated to sharing the vitality and diversity of Israeli culture. After the success of Israeli Stage, Guy was asked by the Goethe-Institut Boston to develop German Stage, by swissnexBoston to develop Swiss Stage and by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York to develop Austrian Stage. His dedication to international theatre has resulted in tours up and down the East Coast from Toronto to Atlanta. A proud Emerson College Alum, Guy has been profiled in The Boston Globe, The International Herald Tribune, Ha’aretz and Improper Bostonian.

I love the Hebrew expression, "Anshei Ha'roach," which literally translates to "People of the Spirit" or "People of the Wind." "Anshei Ha'Roach" refers to those who work in the arts—from writers to painters to stage actors to museum curators—it's an all-inclusive expression for those who are supposedly more connected to the Spirit. According to all those who are not "of the Spirit," I constitute one of these people, and all those whom I spent my time with in Israel are as well.

The most memorable part of my trip wasn't a meeting with someone from "Anshei Ha'roach," but rather a meeting with an Israeli diplomat; the Head of the Cultural Department in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Rafi Gamzu. Rafi has been in the Foreign Service in Israel for a very long time, having served as Ambassador to Taiwan and the Director of Cultural Affairs for North America, based in the Israeli Consulate in NY.

Rafi and I met after I attended the ROI Summit in Jerusalem in June, 2013. I hadn't seen him since then, and reached out to him with the news regarding Israeli Stage's First Full Production coming up in April, 2015. Rafi was very happy to hear of Israeli Stage's growth and together we discussed what it meant to bring Israeli culture abroad—what hasbara meant to both of us, and how presenting Israeli culture from different points of view within Israel helped enrich the conversations going on both in Israel and abroad. It touched me to hear how supportive he is of that type of work, and am happy to say that Israeli Stage and the Foreign Ministry of Israel will be working together in the near future to produce programs together highlighting the diversity of Israeli culture in the United States. 

In less than three weeks, I saw over 12 plays in five different theaters, met with eight playwrights, four stage directors, three artistic directors and one curator—all for the advancement of Israeli Stage's mission to share the diversity and vitality of Israeli culture through theater. I am happy to say that this trip was very worthwhile and resulted in editing two plays, "Ulysses on Bottles" by Gilad Evron (which Israeli Stage will premiere in April 2015 in Evron's presence), and "A Case Named Freud" by Savyon Liebrecht (which I will be directing later this month in Boston and touring to four universities). In addition, I saw a couple of plays that I think Israeli Stage will be producing next year in our 2015-2016 Season. All in all, a very fruitful trip!