Between Their Lines
A chat with students from TAU’s unique honors theatre program that combines acting classes with academic studies towards an MA in Arts.
It has been a very hot and pretty quiet summer here at the Tel Aviv University campus. While most students were still on their summer breaks, we noticed a lot of action going on in the Mexico building, home of the Faculty of the Arts. There, we found our talented theatre students hard at work, rehearsing for one of their several, annual productions where the students get to experience all parts of the production - lighting, set, costumes, main roles and secondary roles.
Two Degrees in Four Years
We met Daniel Hale, Aseel Farhaat, Abigail Zamir, Shira Weiss, Atallah Tanus and Hadas Epel, who are all in their fourth and final year of TAU's unique four-year acting program for honors students at the Department of Theatre Arts. This unique program combines professional acting studies at the highest level with academic studies and is the only one in Israel in which graduates earn a BA in Theatre Arts as well as an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree upon completing four years of studying.
Aiming to cultivate students' skillset and techniques in the fields of acting, speech, poetry and movement, the program also furthers their knowledge in the fields of history and theory of theater art research.
During their MFA, students specialize in the field of acting in theater and cinema by participating in advanced courses on acting techniques and productions with leading directors in Israeli theater. In addition, the students take unique courses in acting in cinema and participate in student films in collaboration with The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television.
The students during rehearsal this summer for the production “Princess Yvone” (Photo: Danielle Shapira)
Actors with Degrees
“It was clear to me from the start that I would only study here, and specifically in this program," says Daniel Hale and adds, "In fact, I only auditioned here."
"One of the things that sets TAU’s program apart from other acting schools in Israel, is that you study four years and get two degrees, a BA degree and an MFA degree. The university degrees gave me a sense of security and motivated me to study here at the University.”
“The degrees are important," agrees Aseel Farhaat (you may have seen her in the popular Netflix-series “Fauda”). Furthermore, Aseel feels a sense of mission with regard to theatre and the Arab community, "I find that everything that has to do with theatre, and culture in general, is a bit lacking in the Arab community here in Israel. I think that's sad and I'd like to change that. That's also why I've studied towards a teaching certificate, I want to promote culture among children. I believe in education, that it can make a difference when it comes to the appreciation of the power of arts."
Diversity in Acting
We met the students as they were rehearsing for "Princess Yvone", a play about life inside of a Palace where people are rigid and appearance matters most. Judging by the friendly and happy group in front of us, that would require some high-caliber acting skills.
The students all agree that the atmosphere in class is really important, “Here at TAU, we're lucky to have situation in which people lift each other up instead of putting each other down,” shares Abigail Zamir.
“I decided to study at TAU because I felt it was a place that would be likely to be accommodating to the religious voice,” says Shira Weiss. “The religious voice is still underrepresented in theatre studies, but the University is much more tolerant than other places.”
Atallah Tanus explains, "The University actually makes sure that different groups and populations are represented in the classes. Diversity is very important where acting is taught.”
Zoom image: “Here at TAU, we're lucky to have situation in which people lift each other up instead of putting each other down,” shares Abigail Zamir.