From Aug ’08 Spotlight: Two years ago, Diane Gilboa, the Artistic Director of North Carolina’s Theatre Or, bought us Hard Love, a challenging play by Israeli provocateur Motti Lerner. Now she’s back with OnStageIsrael, a festival of staged readings celebrating Israel’s 60th Anniversary.

“Curating the plays was difficult,” Diane told me. “I looked long and hard to find plays that in sum total created a vibrant, interesting picture of life in Israel today.” Here are brief synopses of the five she’s selected for us:

Apples from the Desert by Savyon Liebrecht—Cultures clash when a girl from a religious Sephardic family decides to join a kibbutz. (Romantic Comedy)

Conviction by Oren Neeman—An Israeli scholar researches the doomed relationship between a converted Spanish priest and his Jewish wife. (Historical Romance)

Masked by Ilan Hatsor—Three Palestinian brothers wrestle with conflicts between duty, family, and survival during the intifada. (Political Drama)

To Pay the Price by Peter Cohen—Story of Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu, killed rescuing hostages during the IDF’s 1976 raid on Entebbe Airport. (Biographical Drama)

Women’s Minyan by Naomi Ragen—Orthodox woman pleads for the right to see her children. (Fact-based Drama)

“Our Hard Love experience was phenomenal,” Diane said. “I’m thrilled that Victory Gardens invited us back. I would love for this to be an annual event.”

The OnStageIsrael series runs from August 16 through August 24 at the Victory Gardens Theater on Lincoln Avenue. For more information, visit www.theatreor.com.

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