First Overseas Students Production More Than a Rumor

It was only due to my idea of mounting a production by the overseas students that I was able to return to the University for a second time,” said Stacie Green, the vivacious 19-year-old director/producer of Neil Simon’s play Rumors, just before it was performed at the University in December. Describing theater as “my whole life and I wouldn’t be able to exist without it,” the aspiring thespian talked to Focus about the consuming idea that brought her back here.

Green, who comes from East Meadow, New York, had participated in the Overseas Unit’s Kibbutz/University Program in 1995. “I graduated from high school early and then attended a theater studies program in New York,” she recalled. “I hated it, so left after one semester. I looked around for something exciting, and interesting to do, and came across the Kibbutz Gezer and University of Haifa Program.” It was the young student’s first visit to Israel and initial exposure to Israeli culture, and she thoroughly enjoyed her time here.

On returning to America she worked, while applying to colleges with theater study programs. I was thinking of Israel all the time though,” Green continued, “and suddenly had the idea of producing a play at the University of Haifa with both overseas and Israeli students.” One reason she thought the Overseas Unit might be receptive to her idea was the new Theater Department at the University; also she hoped her idea would create a vessel by which the overseas students could relate with Israeli students. Her idea was accepted; and with grateful thanks for scholarships from the Canadian Friends of the University and the Jewish Agency, Green was able to return this past October for a second semester at the University.

When I knew my idea had been accepted I spent a long time deciding on which play to produce, based on the criteria I felt was important,” Green explained. “The play needed to appeal to a bi-lingual audience, and for that reason I decided comedy would be best. I also had to take into account production costs, which had to be minimal, and as easy as possible.

When Green eventually decided on Rumors, she prayed that she would be able to cast the ten parts. “It was not easy, as I really wanted to have an Israeli/Overseas production, but I found very little support in what I was doing,” she said more in sorrow than complaint. The Overseas Department has been as helpful as possible. But I am disillusioned with the level of support received from an Israeli institution as compared with America. Here it is like being in a war, and it is especially difficult as I have no budget whatsoever.” A further disappointment is the fact that there are no Israeli students from the University in the production. The single connection is Ohad Flinker, a student at the Technion, the only Israeli in the cast, whose father is Dr. Noam Finkler of the University’s English Department.

“Out of my cast of ten, eight have no theater experience,” Green said, “but we have drawn together as a cast, and they are really wonderful. I have been treated with respect, and they have devoted so much of their time to the play. It has been an incredible challenge, which has made it all the more worth while. I know it’s an amateur show, but I feel it is as professional as a amateur show can be”
With no budget, Green had to beg and borrow everything required to make the set and props. Lack of communication was a problem--trying to explain what I needed in broken Hebrew, American English, and signs certainly created some amusing moments,” she laughed. Green paid special tribute to the help and support given by the dorm-mother, Chava. In addition, she referred to one overseas student, David Bigge, a political science major at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who has had much experience with theater in the States. Bigge, as well as appearing in Rumors, had been invaluable, especially on the technical side of the production.

Green expressed a wish with regard to the present performance: “I hope to create an annual tradition that will benefit the Overseas Department and be an asset to the University and also draw in the English-speaking community of Haifa to the University. As for her own future, she admitted to being apprehensive at leaving Israel and returning to America. I have been accepted at two colleges for their Theater Studies Program,” she said, but observed with a sigh, “it will be hard to return to an American college after being totally in charge of putting on a show here in Israel.

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