Motti Lerner at Knox

From May ’06 Spotlight: Israeli playwright Motti Lerner is currently a visiting professor at Knox College in Galesburg, where I heard him give a provocative lecture on April 5 on political playwriting. Motti became a committed peace activist after serving in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. He believes that playwriting is an inherently humanistic activity, and that playwrights are typically driven to challenge the established power structure in order to be true to their characters.


Motti’s newest play, The Murder of Isaac, is about the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. This was not the work of one man, Motti told his Knox audience. Yigal Amir’s crime was an inevitable act that continues to haunt Israel’s political landscape. The Murder of Isaac had its American premiere on Feb. 3 at the CenterStage in Baltimore, and Motti is hoping to use his time at Knox to arrange a Chicago production. The Murder of Isaac was originally commissioned by the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv, but it has yet to be shown in Israel. Nevertheless, Motti concluded his lecture with words of hope: “Books and plays and films do create a change. Sometimes the change is very small. Sometimes the change is hidden. Sometimes the change is so deep that we can’t see its traces on the surface. But even if this change is very minor, even if it’s hidden, it’s worth attempting.”

Note that, in addition to his theatrical pieces, Motti also wrote the screenplay for the Yom Kippur War drama The Silence of the Sirens, which played here in Chicago as part of last year’s Israel Film Festival. Directed by Ori Inbar, The Silence of the Sirens received the Israeli Film Academy Award for Best Feature Film made for Television in 2004.

For more of Motti’s thoughts on The Murder of Isaac, visit the All About Jewish Theatre website:

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