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Beware Snails


"Beware Snails!" What a strange concept but what a fitting title to the performance staged by the ENOSH theater group at Yad Lebanim in Ramat Hasharon. This was no ordinary performance because the participants - referred to in Hebrew asמתמודדים - had written or chosen most of the texts themselves.

There is no adequate translation of this Hebrew word used to describe the mentally challenged people who come to the theater therapy group in the ENOSH building each week as a way to find their way together, in love and hope. The monologues and dialogs they presented, gave us a small insight into the challenges they face and the needs and desires they feel to become just that – challenged people accepted and integrated in a society that we less challenged people take for granted. So – Beware Snails.
Don't tread on them as they cross your path. They are vulnerable and need our protection.
And most certainly don't ignore them. Notice their beauty and wisdom. Take heed of the trails they leave behind them long after they've gone. Let those trails become part of our consciousness and make us realize how we all face challenges, even if they are not exactly the same as those of the people who talked to us on the stage that night. This is the message and contribution of the event to non-snail people.

In one piece, a participant told of the disappointment she had every time she applied because there was always someone "better qualified" than she who got the job. But she was not giving up hope.

In a nostalgic re-enactment of a scene from the popular 1990s TV show, Ramat Aviv Gimmel, a mother scolded her daughter saying that her current boyfriend was not good company and warning that if she didn't behave she would be sent to an institution. The daughter is undeterred. All she's looking for is someone to love her unconditionally. Aren't we all?

Later, the blond-wigged spirited mother said he had no trouble acting as a woman. He jokingly added he'd always wanted to be a blond - really funny because he was quite bald. Perhaps the audience in the hall that evening hadn't realized that potentially, all have the positive ability to laugh at themselves.
We need to do that more often.

These were but two of the twelve pieces that comprised the 45-minute show. And when they were done, all five actors fringed the front of the stage and in voices soft and loud declared: "It's permissible to laugh; permissible to cry: permissible to shout; permissible to sing; permissible to love ... It's permissible to be sad; permissible to be hopeful; permissible to be doubtful; permissible to be different ... It's permissible to be ME!"

The performers in this show had been practicing for months with their instructor Talya Menashe, a talented, dedicated drama and psychology major at Reichman University with a decade-old diploma in acting under her belt. This is the third year she has been the recipient of a bursary paid for by the Ramat Hasharon branch of ESRA and she says:
"This group has amazing talents and infinite sensitivity, and I really hope that one day we can publish at least a small book of their texts, because the art they create is of a very high level. I could talk endlessly about the relationship between mental coping and art. And thanks to ESRA, all this happened."
As she hugged her students on stage after the show, the bond she spoke of that had developed between them was manifest.

Baruch Tanaman, a past chairperson of ESRA and currently the executive member "Father" to ESRA Ramat Hasharon, brought greetings from ESRA. He said that it was fitting that ENOSH and ESRA were in a joint project together. Both were organizations that focused on family. Not in the sense of blood relations, but as extended families, where with give and take, we learn from one another and develop ties between one another. What better focus to usher in the New Year! 



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Friday, 19 July 2024

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