|March 13, 2006
"Political conflict begins with ideas," says Motti Lerner, an award-winning Israeli playwright and screenwriter, who will teach a course and give three free, public lectures at Knox College this spring. "Ideas like tribal identity are abstract concepts," Lerner said in a recent interview, "but once a conflict begins, it affects people's lives."
Lerner is the Joseph B. Glossberg Visiting Israeli Scholar at Knox College, a program that brings distinguished artists and academics to speak and teach for a term at Knox. Lerner says he wants to increase awareness of the relationships between ideas and conflict. "You can put your head under the blanket and allow the government to manipulate you, but you'll pay a price in the end."
The author of 12 plays and seven films for television, Lerner says he hopes to "encourage people to respond to conflict while it's happening, to become a responsible citizen, to demand answers from your government and take political actions that will resolve the conflict."
"I'm not saying that you have to become active in demonstrations. But if you have awareness, you'll do the minimal things, like voting."
Lerner will show and discuss his film, "Silence of the Sirens," at 7 p.m., Monday, March 27, in the Round Room, Ford Center for the Fine Arts. The film, which won the 2004 Israeli Academy Award for the best TV feature film, covers events prior to the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel, Egypt and Syria.
Lerner will give a lecture, "The Murder of Isaac: An Example of Political Playwriting," at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, in the Round Room. Lerner's play, "The Murder of Isaac," about the 1995 assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, received its American premiere earlier this month at Centerstage Theatre in Baltimore.
Lerner will show and discuss his film, "Kastner's Trial," at 7 p.m., Monday, April 24, in the Round Room. The film, which won the 1995 Israeli Academy Award for the best TV drama, is about Dr. Rudolf Kastner, a Hungarian Jewish leader during World War II who was assassinated in 1957 for collaborating with the Nazis.
All three lectures are free and open to the public. Lerner also is teaching a special course at Knox this spring, "Decoding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Film and Theatre. Spring term classes begin March 22.
Lerner rejects the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is insoluble. "Plays can create empathy," Lerner says. "If you put a Muslim character on stage, and make him a full character, you're making it possible for the audience to feel empathy, and a little empathy on both sides would help."
Lerner studied mathematics and physics at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and theatre in London and San Francisco. From 1979 to 1984 he was director of the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem. Since then he has been a freelance playwright and screenwriter, and a lecturer in political playwriting at Tel Aviv University. His plays have been produced worldwide, and he has won numerous Israeli Academy Awards. In 1994 he received the Israeli Prime Minister's Prize for Literature.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 46 states and 43 nations. Knox's 'Old Main' is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Motti Lerner's Faculty Profile
309 341 7337