Five scripts about Israel and Israelis are on the roster for OnStageIsrael: A Festival of Staged Readings of Cutting Edge Plays, at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater 8/16-24. The event is being curated by Theatre Or of Durham, North Carolina, which brought its production of another Israeli play, Hard Love, to Victory Gardens in 2006.

Theatre Or held its first Israeli play reading festival at home in Durham in 2004. But producing artistic director Diane Gilboa reportedly felt that the Jewish community there provided too small a pond for the material, so she got Victory Gardens to host. 

Performed in English, the works include:
Women’s Minyan
by Naomi Regan. Based on a true story, it concerns a woman who tries to regain access to her 12 children after fleeing the ultraorthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim. Sat, 8/16, 8 PM, Sun, 8/17, 4:30 PM, Tue, 8/19, 7:30 PM.

Masked by Ilan Hatsor. A recent off-Broadway hit in which Hatsor, an Israeli, looks at three Palestinian brothers struggling with the intifada. Mon, 8/18, 7:30 PM, Thu, 8/21, 7:30 PM, Sun, 8/24, 4:30 PM.

Apples from the Desert by Savyon Liebrecht. A romantic comedy about an urban Sephardic (Mediterranean Jewish) couple whose daughter runs away to join those socialist Ashkenazim (European Jews) at a kibbutz. Wed, 8/20, 7:30 PM, Sat, 8/23, 8 PM, Sun, 8/24, 1 PM.

Conviction by Oren Neeman. An adaptation of Yonatan Ben-Nachum’s novel, Confession, this drama switches back and forth between a presentday Israeli scholar suspected of stealing 500-year-old Spanish documents and the story contained in those documents, of the illicit romance between a converso priest and a Jewish woman during the Inquisition. Thu, 8/21, 3 PM, Sat, 8/23, 4:30 PM.

To Pay the Price by Peter-Adrian Cohen. A portrait of Jonathan Netanyahu –the only Israeli soldier killed during the 1976 hostage rescue at Entebbe, Uganda–using his letters and the testimony of friends. Fri, 8/22, 8 PM, Sat, 8/23, 1 PM, Sun, 8/24, 7:30 PM. 

Dr. Michael Taub, an authority on Israeli theater and translator of Masked, will moderate post-performance discussions 8/21-24. Tickets are $10 per reading and $32 for a five-show festival pass. Call 773-871-3000 or click here for information and tickets.