"Seven Days" by Israeli playwright Shlomi Moskovitz, translated from the Hebrew by Anthony Berris, tells the story of an Israeli family saving itself as an analogy to a Kabalistic version of the biblical creation story.
Emmanuel, an esteemed poet, appears at the home of his former lover Tamar, whom he has not seen for 18 years. Tamar is married to a man named Yotam and they have an 18 year-old daughter, Neta. During the week Emmanuel spends in their home, he rocks the family to its foundations: Tamar is keen to rekindle their old romance and Neta finds him sexually irresistible despite his advanced age. Yotam seems to stand by helplessly as the family suddenly flies apart.
Although the situation seems like an impending tragedy, the four succeed in overcoming it, mostly through the help of Neta and her Kabalistic interpretation of the Creation myth, which initiates a spiritual and profound "new birth" and points them to a promising new way. This interpretation places God and man as the simultaneous creators of one another, through a process of destruction and construction, giving man the tools to repair or amend the soul and spirit of his life and his world. With it, the family members embark on a process which pulls them out of the "the chaos" of the first day, towards the relief and tranquillity of receiving the Sabbath.
Although it is, essentially, a family drama, its style is mixed between and outright expressionism. The dialogue is often abstract, sometimes absurd and often soaring as the characters respond to each other's temptations and weigh their options. Its biblical concept is somewhat evocative of "The Decalogue," an acclaimed series of short films by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1988, originally made for Polish TV), which follows the residents of a Warsaw apartment complex through stories based on and illuminating--at times tangentially--each of the Ten Commandments, bringing the edicts to life and showing their relevancy to modern society.
The play is directed by Geula Jeffet Attar and features Victor Attar as the poet, Udi Razzin as the husband, Deborah Carlson as the wife and Ofrit Shiran Peres as the 18 year-old daughter. Movement is by Neta Pulvermacher. Music is composed by Yuval Mesner. Production design is by Robert Eggers and lighting design is by Watoku Ueno.
Playwright Shlomi Moskovitz explained the evolution of the play, writing, "I began writing the play Seven Days in 1999 out of a deep personal and tormented spiritual chaos. It is difficult to be in a dark and helpless condition and for a while I felt as though I could never overcome it. In spite of my many experiences with spiritual crisis, I never felt lost as I felt then."
"I looked for salvation and redemption. I looked for a stream of light or some hope that I might hold on to something, anything that could help me stabilize my condition in this big campaign of existence. As always in these situations, the writing helped subdue me in a way that offered me a creative challenge. Only recently I began to understand this challenge. The first day was written out of a chaotic stream that looking for order. All that I knew when I finished writing was that if the powers of creation will be on my side, the play should be called Seven Days and would be divided into seven phases of creation as a metaphor to the Jewish Myth. I believed that the end of this play would bring me the Shabbat rest I had been missing and would save me from total destruction."
During this period, he was embarked upon an exciting trip of creativity and spirituality with two friends, Dov Elboyem and Gil Kopatch, that was being made public over an Israeli television program. The program took up a different interpretation of the Jewish culture and spirit week after week. In it, the three men found it was possible to read the scriptures differently than they had read them before, bringing them to deep roots of wisdom that encouraged self awareness. Moskovitz quotes Netta (the daughter character in "Seven Days"), saying "It saved me all the mess of searching for myself in the shores of India."
After cooling down from his first storm of writing, Moskovitz asked Dov Elboyem for an interpretation of the old scriptures to relate to the creation of the world and to "our plastic and poetic understanding of the materials that build each day." Elboyem pulled a book, seemingly at random, from the Kabalistic section of a university library. Moskovitz calls it an example of mysticism that when he opened the book, one line excited him so much with its "condensed essence." It said, "each for his kind – this is all the torah." In the biblical creation story, the words "to its kind" appear ten times in various ways. In this context, the definition of "kind" provided a blueprint for spiritual growth and healing. It contained "an awareness that amendment is possible" and "the belief in a personal dialogue with God which brings with it more openness, acceptance, less ego and fortification."
Moskovitz concludes, "These four characters are living inside me. Once when I first was writing the play, they struggled one another inside me with terrible fights that caused a lot of suffering. Today they continue living inside me in harmony of talk and acceptance. I am trying to share with you a personal experience that I wish that it will be transformed in each one of you to a set of personal codes to her kinds and to his kinds."
Shlomi Moskovitz is a playwright, a scriptwriter and a translator. His plays include "Seven Days" (presented by Habima Theater, where the play won the Ora Goldenberg award and the Nissim Aloni Award in 2004), "A Brief Trip Abroad," "A motorcycle trip" (Hasimta theater), "An integral portion," and "Luna" (an adaptation, presented by the Yoram Levenstein Studio). His new play, "A star Will Shine," will be presented at Habima Theater this coming season. His translations include "The Vagina monologues," "The Death of a Salesman," "Uncle Vanya," "The Full Monty," "Retreat from Moscow" and "The History Boys" (winner of The Ada Ben-Nahum Translation Award), "Period of Adjustment" and "Match Rain." Between 1991 and 1998, he wrote many sitcoms and dramas for Israeli TV. He is the founder of "Revadim," a school for dramatic writing.
Victor Attar (Emmanuel) and Geula Attar (Director) have both been part of La MaMa since 1971. They graduated from NYU in Performance Studies and are founding members of La MaMa Tel Aviv. Their work has been to create avant-garde theater based on Jewish and Israeli literature and legends, both ancient and modern. Geula was born in Israel of Yemenite heritage. Victor was born in Bagdad and immigrated to Israel at 14. He was a member of the Cameri theater in Tel Aviv and later of Jerusalem's repertory, The Kahn Theatre. His avant-garde play, "The Road," was the event that started the La MaMa Tel Aviv Company in 1971. In 1969, he was nominated for the Obie Best Actor Award in fringe theater. In 1975, he achieved prominence for his performance in the La MaMa production of Fernando Arrabal's "The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria," directed by Tom O'Horgan.
Victor and Geula Attar have been working simultaneously in Israel and the U.S. In the U.S., they have been concentrating on New York premieres of modern Israeli plays and new avant-garde theatrical works on Jewish and Middle Eastern themes. Their collaborations include the New York premieres of "Twilight" by Ada Amichal-Yavin; "The Seven Beggars," adapted from the 18th century story by Rabbi Nachman of Braslev; "Creation" by Yossefa Even Shoshan; "Exile In Jerusalem" by Motti Lerner; "Masked Men" by Ilan Hatzor; "Eppure si muove" by Yosef Mundi; "The Labor Of Life" and "The Whore From Ohio" by Hanoch Levin and "Golgotha "by Dr Shmuel Refael, among others.
This production is supported in part by the Consulate General of Israel's Office of Cultural Affairs in the USA and The Institute of Israeli Drama in Tel-Aviv.