Study Guide

Salt of the Earth

The Story | Characters | Artists | Art Forms | Enrichment Activities

“I love the studio. I love the rehearsal space, being backstage, shooting the set. I love it even when it’s a mess, dirty and too hot, on a Middle Eastern summer day. I love the moment in which a good idea is being refined into a scene. I love the stage and I sure love the audience. In my work, I am always trying to reduce the gap between the action onstage and off. I want to allow the audience to be a part of those cathartic backstage ‘making of’ moments. I want as many of those “behind the scenes” elements as possible. The more that can be revealed to the audience and created live, without the pre-fabricated stuff, the greater is the magic of art.”—Zvi Sahar, Director Statement


ZVI SAHAR
Director, Performer, Adaptation, Voice of Narrator, General

[more]Where are you from? Israel

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? My prior acting and puppeteering work, seeing a lot of shows all over the world, and being away from my homeland.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? I enjoy making a balance of very strict rules. Each world we create, on stage and screen must be structured by rules. Within those rules, there is absolute freedom.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? How does the breakage of the story elements, ie. the stage, video, sound, animation etc affect the story?[/more]


LESLIE STRONGWATER
US Producer, PuppetCinema

[more]Where are you from? United States.

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? Working as an Artistic Director at a theater in NYC (Dixon Place) where I was responsible for overseeing over 300 different productions a year made producing this one show possible! Also, my work at The Jim Henson Foundation seeing contemporary puppetry out in the world, curating and producing puppet shows, puppeteering, and just a general immersion into the field of puppetry as an advocate, student and artist….has been good practice.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? Everything! I love logistics-organizing the US Tour, working with BAM, working with Zvi. Getting to see the production in its nascent phase from a work in progress showing early on to developing the descriptive language and understanding the world and rules of the story and aesthetic to helping mount it into a full bodied show. Even though we aren’t finished with it yet….the process has been and continues to be a rewarding journey.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? What was the double viewing process of spectatorship like for you, ie. what is it like to watch both the stage and screen happenings at the same time? Where do you most often focus? Is it distracting? Does it work conceptually for you? Do you enjoy seeing the behind the scenes choreography? Does it take you out of the performance? What do you think about the use of puppetry? Why do you think we use puppetry and film in our performance? And finally, whose story is this?
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ODED LITTMAN
Co-Director, Dramaturg, Adaptation

[more]Where are you from? Israel, sometimes Switzerland.

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? I come from a theater background. I studied and worked as a theater director and lately as a dramaturg.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? I like the inventiveness needed in order to find a different visual expression for every scene. We invent a whole new artistic language and we constantly need to find the right balance between finding freedom and creativity to creating our own rules, and the limitations and frames that will create a coherent world.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? Was your viewing experience more emotional or aesthetic? Ie. Did you focus mostly on the visual images and mechanism of the show, or were you interested in the plot and characters?
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MICHAL VAKNIN
Collaborator, Performer, Puppetry Direction, Voice of Woman

[more]Where are you from? Israel

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? My education was very much focused on theatre, and I’ve also created some puppetry work. I hardly knew anything about making films. Then I met Oded and Zvi while working on a stage production of Richard the Third which incorporated video. Later, Zvi and I studied together at Haifa University. I immediately joined his experiments that resulted in "Planet Egg," our first true PuppetCinema production. Since then we have been constantly trying to extend, analyze, teach, phrase the skills and meanings of this language of the company.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? Creating a whole world out of so little. I enjoy that this type of work requires a lot of teamwork and patience. I enjoy the way we talk to the audience without actually speaking. We convey things through cinematic conventions (over the shoulder, point of view, top shots etc). We know them very well in this day and age where each of us carries screens in our pockets to document the world.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? Where you were more drawn to the screen or the stage? What did you think of the main character in the story? What did you think was different/similar regarding the connection between Zvi's character on stage and the puppet on screen? Where did the main character arrive to in the end? What did or didn’t you understand about the story? What was one image and part of the performance that you liked best? What was something you didn't like and why?
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AYA ZAIGER
Collaborator, Camera Operator and Scenic Designer, Voice of Liora

[more]Where are you from? Israel.

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? My background as a video editor, set and costume designer has helped me during the production, along with the independent projects I do that involve video art and installations. SALT is very much a combination of worlds, with encounters between cinema, performance and visual art.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? More than anything, I enjoy working with a great creative team, a talented staff which is caring and dedicated. When you do something you believe in, For doing something you believe in, you need people on your side you can believe in. That might be the secret of this production.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? The most meaningful thing for me is emotion, maybe it sounds too simple, but most of all I would like to ask the audience what did s/he feel throughout the show? What was the emotional experience like?
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GAI SHERF
Sound Performer

[more]Where are you from? Israel.

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? My work as a musician creating music scores and soundtracks for theater and other stage work, dance shows, other live performance.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? WIth SALT, I enjoy the challenge of creating music for a work which is based on a story that hits close to home. It is very relevant to the present political situation in Israel. I also just enjoy working with the wonderful people in the production!

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? I feel like every show will be slightly different so the questions I have will vary depending on what happens during each performance. Have you ever performed in a show before where something went wrong?
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SHAI EGOZI
Performer, Assistant Light Operator, Voice of Mahmoud

[more]Where are you from? Israel.

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? I'm an actor, and in this production I'm "giving life" to Mahmud, an Arab character that appears in the story. Besides playing in different theatres in Israel, on "regular" plays, I always find something attractive in taking part in the less "conventional" productions, which combine several skills, especially with physical performative aspects.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? I find it very challenging telling a story in two dimensions simultaneously – the cinema aspect alongside with the drama on stage. This production is a pure ensemble work, and it demands a complete synchronization among the performers and high concentration. It feels, in a way, like a dance piece. This kind of work is a creative lesson in restraining the ego, which is always nice and important.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? After the show finished, how did you feel? Did your feelings change during the performance?
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YUVAL FINGERMAN
Performer, Voice of Commander

[more]Where are you from? Israel

What previous experience prepared you for working on this production? My background as a dancer was probably most helpful as it pertains to the puppetry in SALT. Working in a dance ensemble, working together to perform one character..that sort of thing.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this production? The piece is assembled from a lot of smaller scenes. Each scene is created with a lot of imagination. I enjoy the experience of connecting the worlds of theater and cinema. I also enjoy the special concentration the piece requires of each of us, especially when it comes to the puppetry.

What question would you most like to ask an audience after this show? What kind of experience did you have while you were watching the piece?
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