Exploring the Israeli identity crisis

Ballad of the Burning Star, Theatre Ad Finitum
Ballad of the Burning Star, Theatre Ad Finitum

One of the burning issues of the day is given a provocative slant in a play coming to the Crucible Studio next week.

Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Edinburgh Festival hit, Ballad of the Burning Star, is the story of an Istraeli boy’s struggle to come to terms with the conflict raging in his homeland.

The full force of this emotional and passionate political story unfolds with sharp wit and passion through a concoction of cabaret, drag, physical storytelling, songs, live music and new writing.

Co-Artistic Director, Israeli-born Nir Paldi, is writer, director and co-performer of the company’s hit, which is inspired by his own experiences growing up in Israel. 

In the guise of a high-heeled and hairy-chested drag-queen, Star, supported by a glittering troupe, The Starlets, under a shining Star of David mirror ball, he describes growing up in a Jewish settlement built on occupied Palestinian territory, the perpetual war that tore his family apart, and the traumatic events of his military service that made him ask: “Am I a victim or a persecutor?”

Paldi explains: “I wanted to explore the identity crisis facing my homeland, Israel. As Jewish Israelis, we’re brought up on the belief that we are always persecuted, that all non-Jews are against us and that a second holocaust is about to erupt at any moment.

“In Israel, the victim identity is present everywhere you turn, but what is rarely talked about is the fact that Israel has become an occupier - that we are also the persecutors. This leaves Israelis feeling a deep-rooted discord between being the victim, historically, and being the persecutor, in a modern day reality.

“ I wanted to share this complex human situation with the audience. I find the everlasting cycle of victim-persecutor fascinating, tragic, and so very human.

Ballad of the Burning Star is at the Crucible Studio on Wednesday and Thursday.