Dame Helen Mirren Meets Arab and Jewish Students at Hebrew University's Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts | האוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Dame Helen Mirren Meets Arab and Jewish Students at Hebrew University's Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts

26/06/2016

Dame Helen Mirren, one of the world’s best-known and most respected actresses, met on Thursday with Arab and Jewish theatre students who participate in The Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts, at the Department of Theatre Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Dame Helen was welcomed to the Hebrew University by its President, Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson; the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Prof. Dror Wahrman; and Chair of the Department of Theatre Studies and Director of the Billy Crystal Program, Dr. Jeanette Malkin.

At the University’s Garage Theatre, Dame Helen met with Arab and Jewish students who discussed their experiences of acting in both Arabic and Hebrew. They gave a live performance, directed by voice/sound artist Dr. Josef Sprinzak, in both languages.  

She also visited the Theatre Archive and Museum, where artist-teacher Emanuella Amichai, an acclaimed choreographer and performance director who has won international awards for her non-verbal performance plays, introduced her work with Palestinian-Israeli student Elham Mahamid, Place-Identity, which was performed at the Jerusalem Bible Lands Museum last year as part of the closing event of the Jerusalem Art Festival.

At the Hebrew University’s Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, Dame Helen took a “selfie” with a picture of her good friend, Billy Crystal. It was through Crystal’s recent eulogy of Muhammad Ali that Dame Helen heard about The Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts.

Crystal said in his eulogy of Muhammad Ali (video link: https://youtu.be/wdmU6MMW5bg?t=441): “We were always there for each other. If [Ali] needed me for something, I was there. He came to anything I asked him to do. Most memorable, he was an honorary chairman for a dinner in a very important event where I was being honored by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem… The most famous Muslim man in the world, honoring his Jewish friend. [APPLAUSE] And, because he was there, we raised a great deal of money, and I was able to use it to endow the university in Jerusalem with something that I told him about. And it was something that he loved the theory of, and it thrives to this day. It’s called ‘Peace Through the Performing Arts.’ It’s a theater group where Israeli, Arab, and Palestinian actors, writers and directors all work together in peace, creating original works of art. [APPLAUSE] And that doesn’t happen without him.”

Established at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem through the initiative and generosity of the renowned Jewish-American actor Billy Crystal, The Billy Crystal Program for Peace through the Performing Arts is dedicated to promoting a humanistic society based on dialogic relations and peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Theatre artists and students, both Jews and Arabs, participate in a wide range of laboratory classes, workshops, master classes and special projects and performances. This unique program functions as a social and cultural bridge encouraging understanding and identifying with the “other” through collaborative theatre work.

About The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading university and premier research institution. Founded in 1918 by such innovative thinkers as Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Sigmund Freud, the Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind. The Hebrew University is ranked internationally among the top 100 universities in the world, and first among Israeli universities. Serving 23,500 students from 85 countries, the Hebrew University produces a third of Israel’s civilian research and its faculty are at the forefront of the international academic and scientific communities. For more information, please visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

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Dame Helen Mirren Meets Arab and Jewish Students at Hebrew University's Billy Crystal Program for Peace Through the Performing Arts