Israeli Culture's Top Ten |

Israeli Theater's No. 1: Ruth Asrasai

Ruth Asrasai, 31, actress.

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In the role of Lady Macbeth, she drips with bottomless scorn, provokes and pleads. Her almond eyes flash as she asks her husband, "Are you a man?" Ruth Asrasai is thrilling in the Cameri’s production of Macbeth, directed by Omri Nitzan, which premiered recently. As the consort of Gil Frank's Macbeth, she holds the play's beating and bleeding heart in her hands. Having previously shone in the role of Mary in Georg Buchner's Woyzeck, directed by Itai Turan, and as Lady Anne in Arthur Kogen's production of Shakespeare's Richard III, Asrasai has bolstered her standing as the preeminent rising actress in Israeli theater with this latest role.

Winner of the 2010 Israel Theater Prize for Most Promising Actress, Asrasai was born and raised in Be'er Sheva, the child of parents who moved to Israel from Ethiopia before the big waves of aliya. Her mother is a senior counselor at the Absorption Ministry and her father works at the Dead Sea Works. As a child, she studied drama and gained stage experience. As an outstanding student at Beit Tzvi, she attracted the notice of the school's legendary director, Gary Bilu, and played leading roles in many student productions. After her studies, she went on to act in productions at Hasifriya Theater, mainly of Shakespeare plays. She joined the Be'er Sheva Theater in 2008, but the real turning point in her career was her move to the Cameri in 2009.

At the Cameri, Asrasai was involved in the production of Anat Gov's "Good Ending", directed by Edna Mazia, before taking on the role of Mary in Woyzeck, one of the most important and revolutionary plays in world theater. Her performance was dazzling, ranging from innocence to vulnerability and sensuality. In Richard III, playing the role of Lady Anne, she revealed just how incredibly powerful she can be. Her usual combination of intelligence and sensuality is on display once again as Lady Macbeth.

Asrasai stands out in today's theater scene, and not just for her acting ability and her beauty. Until now, five years after completing her studies, she has been the actress who surprises due to unconventional casting. But all that is about to change, after a string of roles in major productions,. We can expect to see her on stage more and more in the future. In today's repertory theater, there is no actress for whom plays are written, or for whom productions are mounted in order to provide roles worthy of her stature. Will Asrasai be the one to break this glass ceiling?

Ruth Asrasai. Illustration by Leo Atelman

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