Last weekend, the 2011 Akko Alternative Theater Festival came to a close with a festive ceremony. During the four days of the 32nd annual Festival, huge crowds packed the city, coming to attend the various performances and events, and proving once again the importance of the Akko Festival as a leading artistic event in the world of Israeli theater, which enables artists to develop and create original, bold and alternative theater.
This year, during a four day period, the Festival included more than 500 performances of 68 shows and events from Israel and around the world, including theater plays, street theater, clowns, acrobatics, interactive theater, presentations, music performances, video art, art fairs and social-cultural panels.
As part of the Festival's outdoor events, under the management of Jackie Bachar, 54 different shows took place on the streets and the alleyways of the Old City, providing a wide variety of events that were accessible and amusing as well as edgy, naughty and even subversive.
For the third consecutive year, the 2011 Akko Festival was produced and managed by the Akko Municipality under the artistic management of Smadar Yaaron and Munie Yosef, emphasizing the unique nature of alternative theater and the values of boldness and creativity in theater. During the closing ceremony, Munie Yosef said: "In our opinion, you have all won all the prizes. We are all trying to create an alternative Festival that is different, edgy and that answers to no one and reveals Israeli society's true colors. This year's Festival was complex, and presented an innovative theatrical language and an amazing integration of veteran and younger artists."
Smadar Yaaron added that the group work and dynamics were prominent at this year's Festival and called for the expansion of the work process in a suitable venue that facilitates this type of work, such as the city of Akko.
Acco Mayor Shimon Lankry said that "this year's Akko Festival, held during the celebrations of the return of Gilad Shalit, was very successful as was demonstrated by the 160 thousand visitors who attended the Festival's events during Hol Hamoed Succot. Everyone who visited Akko this year witnessed the visible change in the city's development and its spectacular beauty. The colorful Festival presented a wide variety of plays and outdoor performances from Israel and around the world which suited the city's alleyways and the city's magical natural treasures, which have been preserved for thousands of years. Moreover, the Akko Festival enabled the huge crowds of people that packed the city's streets to be exposed to unique and unforgettable theatrical experiences. Akko will continue to lead and promote cultural life. Next Passover, during Hol Hamoed, Akko, as a multicultural Mediterranean city, will host a new festival - Vocaliza, which will feature choirs from Mediterranean countries." Lankry thanked the artists and actors, and the Festival organizers, headed by the Festival Director General, Albert Ben Shloush, for Israel's largest cultural celebration.
Festival Director General, Albert Ben Shloush noted: "The 32nd Annual Akko Festival was one of the most successful of all the years, both in terms of the organization and in terms of the rich variety of content presented to the general public. The pleasant and joyous atmosphere was heightened with the return of Gilad Shalit and it seemed that many people came to celebrate the event at the Akko Festival. The city's residents and the visitors from across the country who gathered to celebrate the holiday and the amazing weather, created a feeling of celebration throughout the days of the Festival.