Real missile strike inspired nonverbal show
Israeli and Czech troupes join for 'With Unarmed Forces'
Posted: September 4, 2013
A soldier manages to enter a couple's safe space during a conflict in 'With Unarmed Forces.'
Two nonverbal theater groups are combining forces to present a show that some audiences have found quite challenging. Israel-based Clipa and Prague-based Teatr Novogo Fronta examine the nature of unending conflicts in With Unarmed Forces.
Some members of the two groups have personal connections going back many years, so in 2012 they decided to do a joint theater project. The Prague group went to Israel to do some brainstorming about a topic for the show. "We met in Tel Aviv in order to think about the theme for the show, and the moment the Czech group arrived in Tel Aviv basically this kind of bombing started … which was a huge surprise. You know Tel Aviv had not been bombed for 20 years," Clipa member Idit Herman told The Prague Post in a Skype interview.
"So it was a huge surprise for us as hosts and also for the guests. It puts us into a very ridiculous situation. You know, who gives a fuck about art when you have to protect your baby with your own body? It put a very strong question to us, and we kept on talking philosophically about this question during this week," she said.
"That was the foundation because there was no way to avoid it. Basically they came to discuss the idea of the show and that's what happened. And I think in art you always need to deal with what is happening in the moment. I mean especially if you want to create an art which a reflection on now," she said.
When: Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.
Where: Roxy NoD, Dlouha 33, Prague 1
Tickets: 180-250 Kč nod.roxy.cz
The bombing led to the development With Unarmed Forces, a mostly nonverbal show that has a couple of passages of highly simplified English. The show begins with a couple hiding out in a shelter of some sort. The space isn't specifically defined. The couple has lost their child to a conflict that also isn't defined. It could be any one of a number of conflicts across the world that are dragging on with no resolution in sight.
"Then this place where they are protecting themselves gets hit by a missile and a soldier falls into their place. From this moment on a kind of survival war starts between the three of them," Herman said. The ensuing plot shows the most primitive origins of hate between people, she added. "And during this plot they are followed by images, quite fantastic images, made by a fourth character who appears as a phantom, let's say a very kitschy and trashy figment of their imagination," she said.
The show has already played in both the Czech Republic and Israel. The Prague audience reacted better than Herman expected. "This is very evident because the show is very sarcastic, and if I hear them laughing at the right points, then they understand. So they did laugh. That was a very big blessing," she said.
In Israel, where missile strikes like the one depicted in the show are more of an everyday reality, the reactions were varied. "Here [in Israel] it angered some people a lot. And other people thought it was extremely, extremely important. And there were huge debates about it. In Tel Aviv some people were just completely outraged and couldn't speak to us for days after the show and called after a few days and said it moved them a lot and that it made them very sad. And that it disturbed them and that they cannot stop thinking about it," she said.
Herman likes this type of reaction. "Usually they say about our show, 'Wow I enjoyed it so much, it was so beautiful.' That is the usual thing I hear. … And it is very new to me to hear these kinds of [more complex reactions]. Many people wrote letters, full letters and e-mails. Not a few lines, but really they put a lot of thought into their words," she said.
The strongest reaction was in the southern part of Israel, which has had a lot of bombing recently. "The public could identify with every detail there. And people started telling us their own personal stories, what happened to them, what is happening to them when they close themselves inside of these protection rooms," she said.
So far the show has played three times in Prague and 15 times in Israel, and after returning to Prague for one show on Sept. 12 it will go to Berlin and Slovakia.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at