Saturday, July 19, 2014

Spotlight On...Israela Margalit

Name: Israela Margalit

Hometown: Haifa, Israel

Education: Masters (Artist Degree) in music. Studies in philosophy, political science, and literature. Hon. Doctorate Human Letters.

Favorite Credits: TRIO, The Soveremnick Theater, Moscow.

Why theater?: Theater has always been my second great love, after classical music. I love the economy of writing for the theater, trying to say a lot with a little, finding just the right words and timing, looking for ways to shed new light on old thoughts, to create characters and imagine what they’d say to each other. I very much enjoy the collaborative effort and how characters and lines change with other people’s interpretations. Most of all I treasure the relationship with a director, especially when he or she comes to the project with a strong and fresh point of view. My play TRIO had three successful productions: it was magnificently presented as a period drama in Russia, and ran for over six years. It was more intimate and character-based in a wonderful Ovation-recommended production in LA. And finally translated into Hungarian and presented at the Pecks Theater Festival, where it was stripped of the period in a cutting edge production that won all three leads best actor awards. Each interpretation of the play was fascinating to me, and sometimes quite surprising.

Tell us about Get Me a Guy: Get Me a Guy is different from anything I’ve written before, both in terms of structure and style. The play comprises 16 scenes, each one a moment in the life of a different couple, ages 20 to 70, all interwoven together. Some of the scenes are very short, others longer, some funny (hopefully), others more reflective. Three of the scenes are written as spoken poetry. The same four actors play all the roles.

What inspired you to write Get Me a Guy?: I first wrote it as a short. My husband was very sick. I was desperate. I took care of him at home and life stopped. I found myself writing this play in a comedic style that came out of nowhere. Maybe I was just trying to survive. Then I sent it to a festival. The audience loved it. It won a few awards. I thought I should expand it into a full-length play but it took time to get into it because I lost my husband and I was grieving. But then I couldn’t sleep very well and I started to write scenes at the strangest hours, and one day I had the entire play. Then I went through rigorous editing, threw out some scenes, changed the order several times, tried it this and that way, until I got to this version. My last edit was just two days ago. I learn a lot during rehearsals.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Once, when I was quite young, I stopped at a London theater to see Long Day's Journey into Night. That had a profound impact on me. I love drama. Relationship drama, political drama.But there’s nothing more rewarding than making people laugh. Ideally I’d like to write plays that combine both drama and humor, but only the great masters know how to do that.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: The list is long. There are many directors and actors I admire. Right now I’m working with a fabulous director, John Clancy, so I can’t  think of anyone else. John is such a pro, he’s got taste and style and command, and I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s shaping Get Me a Guy. So, if anyone doesn’t like the final result it can only be my fault.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: You mean lately? All The Way. I’d like to add that I recommended it before it got all those awards.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The title is easy: I have a manuscript called "Surviving Vertically". I’ve never given a thought to the actress who should be me. I’d probably cast the wrong actress. I don’t think I can see myself in perspective. You've got to ask someone else.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I never feel guilty about pleasure. I’ve worked so hard throughout my life, I have no doubt that I deserve pleasure. I’ve earned it. That being said, I mostly enjoy things that are associated with my work. Like a 5-hour good opera. Or seeing a matinee and an evening show with a salad in between. After I recorded the Schumann Piano Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, I bought myself a huge amount of Belgian chocolate and ate it all.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I enjoy pop, country and jazz, but I live and breathe classical music; that’s my greatest passion, and I have too many favorite tunes to list.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A criminal lawyer. The law fascinates me. I love a conspiracy.

What’s up next?: Presenting in New York my comedy with music Sex Today Love Tomorrow with 18 amazing songs by Oran Eldor. We presented it in Berlin and immediately sold the rights to Galissas, and it’s got UK representation, but we haven’t yet tried the American market. It’s a comedy of manners about seven New Yorkers who are trying to make sense of their dysfunctional love lives. In addition, we at Moonlight Theatre Productions are planning a new festival. And I have a play in my head I intend to write, a political drama. I’ll also be giving some piano masterclasses and maybe cut a new piano CD. I’m still active in music, though I don’t tour anymore. But before I do all of the above I’ll be flying to Bayreuth, Germany, to see Richard Wagner’s Ring as a guest of his direct descendent, my friend Eva Wagner. That should be a great experience. The people who are devoted to the Wagner Ring are a nation of its own, fanatics who go from country to country to see yet another Ring. There is a scene in Get Me a Guy about a cultured young woman who loves the Wagner Ring and who loses a guy who’d never heard of it. That's life, a never-ending source of comedy.