Nisan Na­tiv

BORN AM­S­TER­DAM, NOVEM­BER 5, 1922. DIED TEL AVIV, APRIL 19, 2008, AGED 85.

The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES -

FOR NISAN Na­tiv, founder of one of Is­rael’s fore­most drama schools, theatre cre­ation was a life­long am­bi­tion in a coun­try with a lim­ited the­atri­cal tra­di­tion, writes Mordechai Beck.

He fell in love with theatre as a child in Hol­land. His par­ents, who fi­nally set­tled in Am­s­ter­dam af­ter flee­ing Odessa and liv­ing for a time in Poland and Ger­many, of­ten hosted Jewish ac­tors who were fel­low-refugees. Born Nis­san No­tovich, he grew up in a He­brew and the­atri­cal cul­ture.

At 15 he went on his own to Bri­tish man­date Pales­tine. He fought in the fi­nal stages of the Sec­ond World War in the Jewish Brigade in Italy and as an of­fi­cer in the Ar­moured Corps in Is­rael’s 1948 War of In­de­pen­dence.

He started study­ing at the He­brew Univer­sity in Jerusalem, then went abroad to cour­ses in Paris, which con­cen­trated on mime, and at the Guild­hall School of Mu­sic and Drama in Lon­don.

Re­turn­ing to Is­rael, he en­rolled at the Habimah Ac­tors’ School in Tel Aviv. He worked as a di­rec­tor in theatre and ra­dio and, for a short pe­riod in 1957-58, ran the Habimah school.

His prob­lem, he re­vealed, was how to rec­on­cile and merge what he learned in Paris — “how to use my body” — with whathe­learned­fromHabimah—“how to use my mouth”.

When he set up his own school in Tel Aviv in 1963, it was both to teach and to learn along­side his stu­dents, many of whom went on to be­come lead­ing per­form­ers on stage, ra­dio, TV and film.

He fash­ioned his own prin­ci­ples of act­ing, em­pha­sis­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween word and body lan­guage.

Ac­cord­ing to Arik Eshed, di­rec­tor of the Act­ing School’s Jerusalem branch, opened by Na­tiv in 1986: “He had no one tech­nique; for him each stu­dent was an in­di­vid­ual who needed to find his or her truth.”

For­mer stu­dent, ac­tress Karen Moore, re­called his dec­la­ra­tion in her first class: “It is per­mis­si­ble to make mis­takes.” He made his stu­dents “look at re­al­ity in un­con­ven­tional ways, in or­der to dis­cover the ob­vi­ous”, she ex­plained.

Other grad­u­ates of his school, well known in Is­rael and be­yond through film dis­tri­bu­tion, in­clude Shuli Rand, Moshe Igvi, Maital Du’ane, Shira Gef­fen and Orna Fi­tusi.

In 1992 Na­tiv re­ceived the Tel Aviv award for per­form­ing arts and, in 1999, the Is­rael Film Academy life­time achieve­ment award. He was due to re­ceive the Is­rael Prize for his life’s work, the coun­try’s high­est civil hon­our, which many thought was over­due, when he suf­fered a heart at­tack.

He­liv­ed­mod­estlyand­n­ev­er­mar­ried but 700 peo­ple at­tended his funeral, in­clud­ing many for­mer stu­dents.

Nisan Na­tiv: ded­i­cated to drama

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