Tel Aviv Theater Removes Rape Scene From 'Saturday Night Fever' Musical

The Cameri theater said they would revise the scene after female audience members said that it was presented with a lack of sensitivity

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Promotional image for 'Saturday Night Fever' at the Cameri Theater
Promotional image for 'Saturday Night Fever' at the Cameri TheaterCredit: Daniel Sheriff

Judging by reactions of female members in the audience for the Cameri Theater’s new musical “Saturday Night Fever,” which is based on the famed John Travolta film, the victim in the rape scene gets the blame.

Army Radio’s Sunday morning program broadcast the reactions of women who had seen the musical. They said the rape, as it was shown in the Israeli stage version, was presented with a lack of sensitivity.

“After two days of a trial run in front of an audience, we decided to make changes in the scene, since it isn’t the heart of the play,” was the response of the Cameri. “The creative team of the musical ‘Saturday Night Fever’ staged the musical as a faithful reproduction of the 1970s film. We are now doing a trial run, and we get the audience reactions every day. The issue under discussion was on the table of the creators throughout the process because of its complexity – whether to be faithful to the cinematic original or to refine it in the spirit of the times.”

Criticism of the Cameri Theater and its decision to provide a platform to a play that some consider hurtful to women was also heard in May, with the announcement of the staging of a musical written and directed by Maor Zaguri, which will include some of the songs of Eyal Golan, a Mizrahi singing star who was investigated around the turn of 2014 on suspicion of having sex with minors, but police closed the case for lack of sufficient evidence. Golan’s father was convicted of sex-related offenses. .

“No platform should be provided to voices in Mizrahi music at the expense of the voices of women who have been sexually abused,” according to a letter sent at the time by members of the Israeli Women Composers and Performers Forum to the director general of the theater, Ran Guetta. At the same time the actors and employees of the theater itself protested against the musical that uses Golan’s songs.

“It’s not a ‘Mizrahi’ correction, it’s spitting in the face of the female victims,” said actor and director Dror Keren in an attack against the theater’s management, and actress Sara von Schwarze said, “They’re asking me to set aside the treatment of women.”

Guetta responded at the time to the reactions, alluding between the lines to the affair in which Golan had been involved. “A really good and touching play has been created here, and it includes songs by Eyal Golan. Let’s maintain proportions. We have no interest in dealing with this thing. We stand behind the works that we perform.”