By Bea Wolff

Orto-Da Theatre Group

Cast of “Stones.”

Under the organization of Festival Director and actress Linda Purl, the California International Theatre Festival kicked off its 2010 season with the premiere of Stones by Israel’s Orto-Da Theatre Group.

Inspired by Nathan Rappaport’s 1948 sculpture made from rocks saved by Hitler with the purpose of building a monument to the Third Reich, Stones brings to life stories told by the Warsaw Jewish warriors depicted in the granite. The facsimile sculpture is beautifully rendered for stage by designer, Miki Ben Knaan. From depicting the concentration camps to making commentary on current social conditions, these five men, one woman and baby made of stone show they can laugh even at the most destructive elements they have endured, proving that humans can not only survive but do so with a sense of humor. Laced with irony, Stones is wordless, just as the atrocities suffered by the Jewish people – and the joys borne of community and love – are beyond verbal description. It is meant to show how the human spirit triumphs even in the face of utter horror.

Stones is created and directed by Yinon Tzafrir, co-directed and choreographed by Daniel Zafrani, and features six incredible mime artists, who also are credited with co-creating the work and who display a perfect orchestration of well-timed movements, a variety of emotions and a unity of purpose.

Although this particular piece is no longer available for viewing, this premiere is just the first of many to follow at the California International Theatre Festival.

The California International Theatre Festival Visit runs from through July 25, with American premiere productions from Israel, China and Canada, among other performances. Tickets range from $30 – $45, with VIP Festival Passports that include premium seating at all festival performances available for $150. For more information and tickets, visit or call 800-351-2766.

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