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Written by Lisa Traiger, Washington Jewish Week

A thousand pounds of salt, cardboard cut-outs, some plastic army men and toy trucks. These disparate objects become the artistic raw material to recreate the dystopian society Israeli satirist and critic Amos Kenan invented in his 1984 novella The Road to Ein Harod.

In it, we follow a nameless city dweller as he unwittingly gets wrapped up in a military coup by a strong-armed fictionalized Israeli army. He sets off on a risky journey —through desert, sea and small towns — that spans history and historic battlegrounds of the past toward what he believes is the last holdout for a free society: Kibbutz Ein Harod in the Jezreel Valley. The production came to the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center for two performances last week.

Salt of the Earth, an 80-minute theatrical experience using puppets and live-action film projected on a full-screen, was written and directed by Israeli actor and director Zvi Sahar, who drew on the collaborative skills of the group PuppetCinema and the Jerusalem-based HaZira Performance Art Arena.

It is a puppet show for the 21st century. The material, which delves into the implacable politics of Israel’s military Zionist industrial complex, is highly sophisticated and adult in nature.

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