Several of Israel's leading theater companies have agreed to perform in the new cultural center in the settlement of Ariel, due to open on November 8. The companies include the Habima National Theater, the Cameri Theater, the Be'er Sheva Theater and Jerusalem's Khan Theater.
The cultural center has been under construction for some 20 years, due to recurring funding shortages. Recently, the city's mayor, Ron Nachman, managed to secure the funding necessary to complete the building, rounding up the total cost at NIS 40 million. The cultural center's manager, Ariel Turgeman, told Haaretz that he fully believes the venue will be ready for opening within three months. In recent weeks, construction has been going on by night, to allow the Muslim construction workers to fast during the Ramadan month.
The center's main hall will hold 540 seats, and subscriptions, priced at NIS 511 for eight shows for residents of Ariel, have already gone on sale.
The cultural center is set to open with Be'er Sheva Theater's "Piaf" on November 8, followed by the Cameri Theater performing Bertolt Brecht's "The Caucasian Chalk Circle," "Havdalah" and "Tuesdays with Morrie". Be'er Sheva Theater will return with "The Count of Monte Cristo," followed by Habima's "Dancing and Flying" and "A Railway to Damascus," and Khan Theater's "Les fourberies de Scapin" by Moliere.
Turgeman volunteered that he is close to signing the Camerata chamber orchestra and is negotiating with singer Yehudit Ravitz and the Rishon Letzion Symphony Orchestra.
Nachman says he does not see the opening of the cultural center as a political statement. "Ahead of the opening of the peace talks, I invite the Palestinian Theater to perform here. Achinoam Nini ("Noa" ) is not the only one who can sing with Arabs. My vision was to bring culture, music and theater for all residents of Samaria, from Petah Tikva to Amman."
Yousef Sweid, who performs in "A railroad to Damascus," said he was surprised to hear he was due to perform in Ariel. "I'm opposed to it, but this is the first I heard about it and I'd like to investigate the matter further," he told Haaretz.
A Habima spokeswoman told Haaretz: "Habima is a national theater, and its repertoire is supposed to suit the entire population."
"The Cameri, like all Israeli theaters, plays anywhere there are subscribers who are lovers of Hebrew theater," read a statement from the Cameri.