Motti Lerner

Playwright/Screenwriter

5 Massada St. Ramat Hasharon
Israel 47290
Tel: 972-3-5405295
Fax: 972-3-5491693
motti@macam.ac.il
Born in Israel 1949. Studied mathematics and physics at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Studied theatre in various theatre workshops in London and San Francisco. In 1976-1979 wrote and directed plays for experimental and street theatres. In 1979-1984 was director and dramaturg at the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem. Since 1984 freelance playwright and screenwriter for the major theaters and TV channels in Israel. His plays were produced in the U.S, England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Australia. Teaches “political playwriting” at Tel Aviv University. In 1992 was writer in residence at The Center for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies in Oxford. In 1994 won the Prime Minister of Israel Award for Writers. In 1997 was Visiting Professor at the Drama Department, Duke University, North Carolina. In 2000 participated in the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. In spring 2006 and fall 2007 was a visiting scholar at Knox College in Illinois. He frequently lectures at European and American Universities on the Israeli theatre and especially about Israeli theatre and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The following is a list of his plays and films are:

KASTNER

A political/historical drama about the tragic negotiations conducted by the Jewish community in Hungary during World War II with Adolph Eichmann, head of the Gestapo unit 4-B on rescuing the remains of European Jewry.  Originally produced by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv (1985). Winner of "Play of The Year" award (1985). Also produced by the Heilbronn Theatre, Germany (1988). Available in English and German.

PANGS OF THE MESSIAH

A political drama about the Right-wing settlers in the West Bank who resist the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan and blow up the holy mosques in Jerusalem to sabotage it. Produced by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv (1987). Available in English. A new version of this play was produced at Theatre J in Washington DC (2007) and won the nomination for the Helen Hayes best play award (2008). The play will open in Chicago in February 2009 and in Cleveland in June 2008. Available in English.

PAULA

A monodrama about Paula Ben-Gurion, the wife of the first prime minister of Israel, in which she questions many of the issues her husband dealt with. Produced by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv (1987).

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EXILE IN JERUSALEM

(Originally titled “Else”) – A drama based on the last five years of the life of the great German-Jewish poetess Else Lasker Schuller, who fled from Nazi Germany in 1933 and found refuge in Jerusalem where, in spite of her greatness, she died isolated and forgotten. Originally produced by the Habima National Theatre, Tel Aviv (1990). Also produced at the Royal National Theatre Studio in London (1992), The Jewish Ensemble Theatre in Detroit (1993), Tri-Buhne Theatre in Stuttgart (1994), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Massachusetts – with Julie Harris in the title role (1994), the Wienkelwiese Theatre in Zurich (1995), Theatre “J” in Washington DC (1998), La-Mama Theatre in New York (1998), Freie Buhne theatre in Vienna, Salt Pillar Theatre in Melbourne (2000), Bimah Theatre in Berlin (2002) Available in English, German and Russian

POLLARD

A political drama about the scandal created by the Israeli intelligence services that hired an American Jew employed by the American navy to spy for Israel. The play was produced by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv in 1995 while Pollard is still in an American jail. Available in English.

LOVES AT BITANIA

A television drama about the dramatic changes that took place in the social and moral structure of the kibbutz in the last decade. Produced by Israeli Television. (1993)

KASTNER'S TRIAL

A three-part television drama, based on the Kastner Affair, in which the leader of the Hungarian Jewry during World War II was accused of collaboration with the Nazis in the extermination of Hungarian Jewry, and who was later assassinated by a Right-wing militant in Tel Aviv in 1957. Produced by Israeli Television (1994). Winner of the Israeli Academy Award for the best T.V Drama. (1995)

AUTUMN

A drama about a doctor who immigrated to pre-state Israel in 1896 to become a farmer. After 30 years he doesn't feel at home. He falls in love with his former lover’s daughter, but is caught by his wife and children who kill him to stop the affair. Originally produced by the Beit Lessin Theatre, Tel Aviv (1996). The play was also produced by the Heilbronn Theatre, Germany (1996), at La-Mama Theatre in New York (1996) by Duke University Drama Program (1997) and by Georgetown University Drama Program (2001) Available in English, French, German and Russian.

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BUS 300

A five-part television drama about one of the most traumatic scandals in the Israeli secret services.  Four terrorists hijacked a bus and were stopped by the army. Two of them were taken alive after the army broke into the bus, interrogated by the secret service and killed immediately afterwards. The government issued a statement that all four terrorists were killed in the attack, but press photographers had taken pictures of the two terrorists who were taken alive from the bus. The drama includes the struggles between the government, the attorney general, and the secret services that were trying to bring the scandal to an end, each in its own way. Produced by Israeli Television. (1997)

EGOZ

A three-part television drama about the flight of Moroccan Jews to Israel in the 50’s and the early 60’s. The drama describes the organization of a group of 44 Jews by the Mossad, their journey from Casablanca to the Mediterranean, and how they perished on the boat “Egoz”, which sank in a storm. Produced by Israeli Television. (1998)

THE MURDER OF ISAAC

A play about the assassination of Yitzhak (Isaac) Rabin, Israel’s former prime minister who was assassinated after initiating peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The play explores the infrastructure of Israeli society in an attempt to present the deep internal conflicts that led to this tragic event. Produced by the Municipal Theatre of Heilbronn, Germany (1999), and by Centerstage Thetare in Baltimore, US in 2006.  Available in English and French.

THE INSTITUTE

A 12-part television drama series that takes place in an institute for psychotherapy and deals with the life of the therapists, the life of the different patients, the relationships between therapists and patients, etc. Produced by Tel-Ad for Israel Television Channel 2 (2000)

BATTLE IN JERUSALEM

A three-part television drama that takes place during the 1948 War of Independence. A group of 20 soldiers is sent to take an Arab position near Jerusalem. After twenty hours of terrible fighting they decide to retreat, but as they are unable to carry their wounded, they blow up the position with the wounded in it. Produced by Israel Television Channel 1. (2002)

COMING HOME

One Act play about a young soldier who returns from his army service at the occupied territories suffering severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Originally produced by Tzavta Festival for One Act Plays (2003). Also produced as part of the play GEGENSETIEN written by a group of 8 Israeli and Palestinian writers in Heilbronn, Germany (2003), and by Golden Thread Theatre in San Francisco (2003). Available in English and German.

HARD LOVE

A play about a secular writer and his ultra-Orthodox ex-wife who are trying to re-marry after twenty years of divorce, but discover that they have changed so much that living together is impossible. Produced by Haifa Municipal Theatre (2003), by Theatre Or in Durham, NC in 2005, by Bimah Theatre in Berlin (2006) and by The Jewish Theatre of the South in Atlanta (2008), and by Old Mutual Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa (2008). Available in English, German, and Russian.

THE SILENCE OF THE SIRENS

A TV feature film that takes place in the headquarters of the Israeli Army Intelligence during the 10 days before the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The film explores the reasons why the head of the military intelligence couldn’t foresee the coming war in spite of the accurate information he had. Produced by Israeli TV Channel 2 (2003). Winner of the Israeli Academy Award for the best T.V feature film. (2004)

PASSING THE LOVE OF WOMEN

A play inspired by “Two” a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer (written in collaboration with Israel Zamir) about two yeshiva students in 19th century Poland who discover that they are homosexual, and one of them has to disguise himself as a woman so he can live together with his lover. First Produced by Habima National Theatre, Tel Aviv (2003). Also produced at Theatre “J” in Washington DC (2004). Available in English.

BENEDICTUS

A political thriller that takes place 72 hours before an American attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran. An Israeli arms dealer who was born in Iran tries to rescue his sister from Teheran and offers arms to an Iranian politician, who struggles to postpone the American attack. First produced by Goldenthread Theatre in San Francisco (2007). Also produced at the LATC in Los Angeles (2007) The play was presented as a staged reading at the Lark's playwright's week (2008)

SPRING 1941

A feature film inspired by short stories by Ida Fink about a Jewish family in Poland in 1941 trying to survive the Nazi occupation. A Polish-Israeli co-production directed by Uri Barbash with Joseph Fiennes and Claire Higgins. Produced by Praxis and Opus Film (2008)

ALTALENA

A feature film about the arms boat sent by the French government to the right wing underground in Israel in 1948 and destroyed by the Israeli government, an event that shaped Israel's early internal politics. Directed by Eli Cohen. (2008)

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