Israel has a fresh and vital comedy scene, with a host of “stand-up-istim” (yes, that’s right, Hebrew has no word for stand-up comedians), as well as many well-known comic actors.
What’s obviously been missing until now is a gay Australian immigrant, human rights lawyer, and theater arts graduate, who is about to launch a one-man show in Jerusalem called “Peres in Therapy.“
Meet Jeremie Bracka, 35, fresh from a series of appearances in Sydney and Melbourne (his home town) that got rave reviews for “A clever idea wonderfully executed via … a very polished script…” (Sidney Arts Guide)
His clever idea is to introduce audiences to 20 characters, culled both from his strongly Jewish and Zionist upbringing in Australia, and his experience in Israel as a human rights lawyer with institutions like the Peres Peace Center and the Supreme Court. His goal is to “allow people to connect to the characters, and to think and to feel,” what the Mideast conflict is all about.
Bracka sends up “the platitudes of Shimon Peres” and does a mean interpretation of Yasser Arafat, too. (In Australia, the show was entitled Arafat in Therapy. “Here in Israel, Peres is equally a symbol of the conflict, ” Bracka says, “and there’s more political bite to be satirizing the current president of the State. Think what that says about the state of Israeli democracy,” he adds.)
Bracka made aliyah in 2010, after several years living and working in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. His commitment to a career as a human rights lawyer is as strong as his passion for performance, and provides much of the material for his current show.
“Law and performance are two sides of the same coin,” he explains. “They both stimulate me emotionally and intellectually.”
Since the practice of human rights law is often project oriented, Bracka uses the hiatus between law gigs to develop his next show.
Like his previous shows, Peres in Therapy had a long gestation period, Bracka says. “The ideas and characters are in my head for years; then I discharge them onto paper, which takes several months, and finally there are weeks of rehearsals.” Music is an important part of the show, and Bracka collaborates with Tomi Kalinski, a veteran musical director who specializes in Yiddish culture.
Together with his experience in Israel, Bracka draws on his immigrant family experience as the youngest of three children whose parents immigrated to Australia from Poland and Egypt and were verbrente Zionists.
“At its heart, the show is showing the human side of the conflict, through the Israeli and Palestinian characters,” Bracka adds.
Three shows are scheduled in Jerusalem on July 25, 31 and August 1 at 8 p.m at the AACI, 37 Pierre Koenig Street in Talpiyot.
In October, Bracka and his show will be part of the prestigious New York United Solo, the world’s largest solo theater festival.