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Nava Semel

And the Rat Laughed

צחוק של עכברוש

Director Yonatan Esterkin

World premiere 
Translated and stage adapted by Tina Kosi
Opening September 2021


Nava Semel (1954-2017) is considered one of the most successful and internationally acclaimed Israeli writers and playwrights. She authored twenty books. Her novels were translated into several languages and won many awards. In 1996, she received the Israeli Prime Minister’s Award for Literature, preceded by the Women Writers of the Mediterranean Award in France in 1994. In 2007 she was lauded »the Woman of the Year in Literature of the City of Tel Aviv«. Her most successful and critically acclaimed novel And the Rat Laughed was published in 2001. It was adapted into an opera libretto. As a play, it will be staged for the first time at the Celje Theatre.
And the Rat Laughed is a novel set in the past, present and future. A granddaughter is assigned a school project about Holocaust survivors. Her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor, so she visits the girl to tell her her story. The grandmother is loath to remember those harrowing times and is unable to tell her granddaughter that her parents entrusted her at the age of five to a farmer’s family who kept her imprisoned in an underground potato storage space. Her only company was a rat, and the farmer's grown-up son often raped her. The grandmother only manages to tell the story of the creation of the world, in which the rat demands the gift of laughter from God. The girl tries to present her project at school but misinterprets her grandmother's story due to a lack of information.
In the central part of the play, poetry appears online, uncovering the chaotic, upside-down world of a child hidden in the dark. This website becomes the basis for the popular myth of The Girl and the Rat. The future is depicted in a television show, where it turns out that humanity has become trivialized to the extreme. 
The stage adaptation is framed by the story of a priest who takes in a child during wartime. In his efforts to restore the girl's speech, hope and faith in God and humanity, he realises that he himself has lost all of these.  
And the Rat Laughed is a play about one of the worst crimes in the 20th century – the Holocaust. By means of a heart-breaking story of a child, it explores how memory becomes a story and how history gradually turns into a myth. 

A play about memory becoming a story and history turning into a myth.


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