MEET TOURIST GUIDE'S ACTORS
Israeli expat Erga Netz, who has been living in The Netherlands for the past 32 years, always knew she’d be an actress, even as a child. But, when still at University, she discovered another love: film and documentary. And for years she produced and directed documentaries, often in collaboration with the late Izzy Abrahami: Swing Me to the End of Life, about the Jewish jazz-duo Johnny & Jones, and Bloeme’s Riddle—a biopic about Bloeme Evers-Emden, the godmother of Sjoel West, a progressive Orthodox shul in Amsterdam West—are the most recent ones to receive great critical acclaim.
In 1996, Erga initiated Stichting Rainbow, a foundation with an impressive track record dedicated to bringing top notch Israeli culture to The Netherlands.
About 5 year ago, Erga was finally reunited with her first love: producing plays and acting in them. Her goal is to realize about one play a year and preferably to act in it as well. In 2014, she organized SPOT ON ISRAEL, a festival featuring the Israeli theater diva Lia Koenig, a celebration of the Jewish-Israeli theater, including a side program with discussions about politics in Israel. In 2017, she produced and played the part of Shifra in Ha-Ketubah (The Marriage Certificate) by the Hungarian-Israeli satirist Ephraim Kishon. In 2019, her friend and tutor Lia Koenig directed Erga in The Child Behind the Eyes, a moving solo piece by Nava Semel about the mother of a son with Down syndrome.
Erga now stars in Tourist Guide, playing the ultimate lead part of Marga Weissberg.
The play is directed by the experienced Israeli actor Iftach Ophir, an incredibly inventive and slightly hyperactive multi-talent with a real knack for comedy. He’s absolutely having a field day directing this comedy and at the same time acting in it. Having earned his spurs both in movie and theatre, Iftach manages to whip up his fellow actors to ever greater comedy heights until their acting is almost completely over the top.
Complacency is not exactly Iftach’s thing. By coming up with a new approach to the play almost on a daily basis, he enjoys keeping himself and his co-actors on their toes. He doesn’t spare them, nor does he spare himself. And he enjoys keeping his audience on the edge of their seats. Or rather, rolling off their seats with laughter.
At first, Iftach didn’t think too much of Tourist Guide’s storyline: in a Warsaw hotel room, a domineering, Shoah surviving mother who likes her Vishniak, clashes with her subdued divorcee son, who's undecided about his preferences: art or money, the luscious shikse or the neurotic Jewish librarian.
But, after delving into the psychological intricacies of the characters and digging into the dramatic baseline, he considers the play to be ultra dramatic, yet at the same time, an hilarious farce, really. That’s why it’s both such an incredibly funny as well as a moving play. Iftach Ophir is bound to surprise you with his take on Tourist Guide to Warsaw!
Iftach Ophir as the failed husband and painter Yosef
and Yasmin Kedar as the over 40 and still not married Bina. Photo Ofir Abe.
Israeli born and raised singer-songwriter and actress Yasmin Kedar is a graduate from the Acting Studio of Nissan Nativ in Tel-Aviv. Throughout the years, Yasmin has performed on many stages and starred in various TV series. A partial list includes the Haifa theatre, the Akko festival, some freelance work for commercial theatre productions, and the Youth Theatre. She also played leading roles in the TV series Puzzle and Good News (with Sahi Avivi).
Being the comedienne of tremendously disarming charm that she is—upstaging Juliette Binoche in the wink of an eye with her clownish acting skills and sensitive reflection of the other actors’ emotions in her body language—the audience is bound to fall in love with actress Yasmin Kedar. But unfortunately for all of us, she moved to Holland in 1998, following the love of her life, and is now married with 2 children.
Yasmin studied music at the Utrecht Conservatory and graduated with honors as a jazz and light music singer. With her band LOLA, Yasmin released Yaim Shel Sheket (Peaceful Days), a CD which has become a classic among an ever growing fan base. Next, Yasmin created and toured with several music and theatre shows, two of which are especially dear to her: The Sound of Movies, a multimedia spectacle, and Me and The Bard, for which she transformed Shakespeare’s famous sonnets into her own compositions. In 2017, she performed at the Yoni Rechter concert in Schouwburg Amstelveen. Nowadays, Yasmin is a member of the band Ocean, and planning to start touring later on this year.
Like Lazerovitz, the ever charming lawyer he’s is playing in Tourist Guide, Nathan Yamin is a real character actor. He is an experienced and skilled actor, gifted with a natural comical talent. To see him is to like him. Nathan was born in Tehran, grew up in Israel and has lived and worked all over the place. After traveling around the world for years, he’s finally settled down in The Netherlands.
Theater, film and acting have always been his passion. He’s been at it ever since he was a kid, developed his art during his high school days and has continued to do so up to the present day. For many years, he directed musicals and plays for children and young adults. At the same time, he directed and acted with The Amsterdam Israeli Theater ensemble.
Since its foundation in 2004, he directs and acts in the Dutch musical group Si tu Veux. They write their own scripts, texts and songs, and in November 2020, they’ll celebrate their 15th anniversary with a brand new musical at the Oude Raadhuis theatre in Hoofddorp.
According to Iftach, every great Jewish comedy simply has to have at least one attractive shikse in it. In Tourist Guide, the role of the irresistible Polish artist model Vera is played by dancer and mime actress Eliza Zakrzewska. But there’s definitely more to Eliza than just an attractive body. Characteristically, the hottest pic of herself Eliza could think of, is this sizzling snapshot taken near the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala, where the sweltering heat raises your body temperature to the max. Although obviously having a highly developed sensory and bodily awareness, she chooses not to show off her well trained body just for the sake of it.
Expression of emotions through the body is quintessential to Eliza’s art. While obtaining her master in HR management at Cracow University, she has taught at the National School of Circus Arts in Warsaw, mastered various dancing styles ranging from salsa to flamenco, and trained as a mime actor, both at the famous Stefan Niedzialkowski Mime Studio as well as at the Henryk Tomaszewski Wrocław Mime Theatre. Before coming to Amsterdam to perfect her art, she starred in dozens of highly stylized mime productions in Poland.
AND TOURIST GUIDE'S CREW
Tourist Guide is made with lots of love. On both sides of the Mediterranean, people have been working their tocheses off to turn this Israeli-Dutch coproduction into a smash hit comedy. Thanks are due, first of all, to playwright Hillel Mittelpunkt and to actress Lia Koenig, who respectively gave birth to and have nursed this cute comical baby until it reached wisdom in adulthood.
In addition to producer Erga Netz and director Iftach Ophir, the production team of Tourist Guide includes versatile director assistant Debbie Knoller-Green, who by now has memorized all the actor’s lines so well that she could act as an alternate for any actor in the play. The inventive genius Rob van Putten, who came up with all kinds of extremely creative in-budget solutions for the set and the props, signs his name to the stage and the lighting design. With only a limited budget at her disposal too, vintage specialist, costume designer and stylist Lior Gal somehow managed to scrape together the perfect outfit for all the actors, with just the right ‘Polish touch’. The performance is completed by the fine-tuned musical accompaniment of music editor Yuval Yanai. And PR & marketing specialist Hein Hartog is committed to ensuring that you are coming to see the play. The great poster and all the PR material was designed by graphic designer Delian Rashkov of Pressure Line Rotterdam. The amazing publicity photos are by Ofir Abe. And a heartfelt kol hakavod to all the local publicity people and stage managers of the various theatres!