Israeli film and theatre actress Dalia Shimko: It is my hope that the coronavirus crisis will bind society

Dalia Shimko, photo: YouTube channel of Dalia Shimko

Dalia Shimko is an Israeli film and theater actress as well as a theater director, and founder of Ensemble Aspamia. In the third part of a series of interviews with Israelis with Czechoslovak roots conducted by the Czech Centre in Tel Aviv she talks to the centre’s head Robert Mikoláš about her work, the coronavirus crisis and her plans for the future.

Dalia Shimko, photo: YouTube channel of Dalia Shimko

Cultural institutions were among the first places to be closed in Israel, including your theatre. What are you doing currently Mrs. Shimko?

“These days I'm hardly doing anything. Not only because of the coronavirus situation, but also because of the political situation in Israel that gives me great worry and concern, and greatly strains me and my creativity.”

As a theatre director you are responsible also for your actors and all the employees. Do you still keep in touch and support each other? And are you also in touch with the audience?

"Theater is for me a place for absolute freedom. A place I can truly face the dark and the romantic side of my personality. It's a place where I can talk about the problems, difficulties and violence in the world.”

“As the director of my company Ensemble Aspamia I keep in touch with my actors almost on a daily basis, we talk about our concerns,crack jokes about the situation, support each other and try to plan future projects. For the audience we are streaming past shows online through social media.”

You are also a well-known actress, you starred in movies and later in theatre plays and you have always been very active. However now, you have to stay at home. Are you writing a new play or rehearsing a new role?

“I was engaged in a few projects before the crisis escalated - a new play based on a short story 'Little Pinks', co-writing a new television series, and raising funds for a feature film co-written with actor and my friend Sharon Alexander.”

Israelis are famous for their solidarity and bravery. Do you believe they will overcome this crisis and defeat the coronavirus together?

“I believe that Israeli society is wracked by conflict and divisions within, regardless of the viral epidemic, but I maintain the hope that it could bind the society once more.”

Dalia Shimko, photo: Amir Gilad, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
Every day brings us new stories, new heroes, which include doctors, nurses, caregivers, but even cashiers in supermarkets. Would you see a possible theatrical theme in their stories?

“I have no doubt that already accounts and books are being written as we speak about the epidemic. As for myself, usually I don't react to the immediate reality in my artistic work - but who can say for sure.”

Czechoslovakia is your native country. Are you still in touch with people from the land of your ancestors and with their culture? Do you keep track of the local cultural scene?

“My closest family resides in Prague and I'm very connected to them and through them also to Czech society and culture. My cousin Jaroslav Rona is a very famous Czech sculptor and painter and through his circle of friends I'm acquainted with many people from the Czech artistic scene, I have aspirations and dreams to work with Czech and Slovak theatres. Hopefully, soon after the corona situation.”

Dalia Shimko is an Israeli film and theater actress as well as a theater director, and founder of Ensemble Aspamia. Shimko was born in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) and immigrated to Israel at the age of six. After her military service, she appeared in the movies "Zits 80" and "Repeat Diving ", but it was her role as Noa, in "Noa bat 17" (1982) that made her a local star and opened the door to a career in theatre. In 1984 she went to London to study at the Webber Douglas Academy. In 1985 she returned to Israel and appeared in TV plays (Soul of a Jew, 1982; Ghetto, 1984, Moliere, 1986); films (One of us, 1989) and television series (On the fence, 1982-87; Bat Yam New York 1999; The Eight, 2006) In 1991, she launched her career as a director and has since brought to the stage dozens of productions, in Acting academies (Blood Wedding, 1991; Spring Awakening, 1993), theatre festivals (The Snake, 1993) as well as in Habima, the Israeli National Theatre (Crack in the Concrete, 2007) and many others. In 2003 she founded her own Fringe group Aspamia which first operated as an independent group, and later became an ensemble supported by the Ministry of Culture. Since then the ensemble has brought to the stage over 20 productions, all of which were directed by Shimko.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Czech Centers around the world to go online. However they remain in communication with the public offering presentations of Czech culture, science and innovation on #CzechCultureToTheWorld.