Israeli actor Adi Bielski reprises her role in the one-woman play An Israeli Love Story for three nights this week at the Studio Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, presented by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company.
Based on a true story, An Israeli Love Story is written and directed by Pnina Gary, the recipient of the 2006 Life Achievement Award from the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture, for her 50-year career in theatre.
Bielski previously performed the play in Toronto and Ottawa three years ago.
“The story is about a young girl in the years 1942 to 1948,” Bielski says. She meets a man who’s a member of Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah. Just before they plan on getting married, he is killed during an ambush by an Arab mob.
“The thousand people that were invited for the wedding came to a funeral, and the food that was prepared for the wedding was served at the funeral. Every word in the story is true, and the real young girl, is actually the director and writer, Pnina Gary. The guy she fell in love with was the son of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of Israel.”
Bielski says that until the end, which is heartbreaking, it is a very joyful story. It has a lot of humour and a lot of funny characters. It focuses on first love, and for older audience members, it brings back memories of the ’40s, while for younger theatregoers, it’s the love story that catches them.
After each of the Toronto performances, the audience will be treated to a video introducing them to Gary, the real heroine of the story.
Gary wrote the play 12 years ago and kept it hidden in a drawer until the war with Lebanon seven years ago.
She related to the stories that came out in the news and felt it was imperative to finally produce this play.
She scoured Israeli theatre schools and companies until she found Bielski. Gary saw herself in Bielski, and Bielski felt compelled to do this production. They started by working together in Gary’s living room for over six months, with no budget. To date, she has performed the play more than 450 times since 2008.
Bielski, who served as an education officer in the Israeli army from 2004 to 2007, is a graduate of the Yoram Levenstein School of Dramatic Arts. She won an acting award in Israel for her role in this play.
An Israeli Love Story is presented as part of Spotlight on Israeli Culture, a two-month showcase and celebration of contemporary music, drama, dance, art, film, video and photography. It runs in English Feb.13 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., Feb. 15 at 8 pm., and in Hebrew on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. Call 1-855-985-2787 or visit www.hgjewishtheatre.com or the box office for tickets.