There’s a lot to say about Tarin, but I want to talk about theater. Or rather, about Tarin’s connection to theater and about the bonds which formed between her and me through theater. When Tarin was about 8 years old, I happened to read an interview with Tzruya Shalev (An Israeli authoress). She said in an interview that her father had read her stories by Kafka when she was a little girl. I found the idea of exposing a child to adult artistic works exciting, but I chose to do it from the perspective of my own world, the theater. One evening I took Tarin with me to a very successful show at the Cameri. In the middle of the show, Tarin got up from her chair, started walking in the hall and nagged me to go back home…Luckily, the program of ‘Ootz-Li Gootz-li’ (famous children’s theater play by Avrhaham Shlonsky) was accidentally thrown on the floor, probably from the morning show. For those who don’t know, some of the programs of ‘Otz Li Gutz Li’ contain a booklet with activities for children.
Tarin sat down on the floor and solved the challenges in the children’s programs. From time to time, when she got stuck with the crossword definitions, she came over to consult me… When we got home, I was very frustrated. My daughter, mine! She’s not gonna like theater? What would we talk about? How would we spend time together? And how come it did work for Tzruya Shalev? And Kafka of all things! I called a friend in despair, and she said to me: “Did the thought cross your mind that perhaps the show was simply not to her liking?” I said, wow. You’re right. I took Tarin to another show, and another and another, and always found myself taking out booklets and markers from my bag… At one point I raised my hands in surrender.
The turning point in the plot occurred when Tarin heard that there were auditions for children for the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. She auditioned, was accepted and suddenly, overnight, was completely sucked into the world of theater. She sat in rehearsals for hours, even in rehearsals of scenes she did not participate in. She scanned all of YouTube for performances of “Fiddler on the Roof”, she read endless materials on the musical. And there was no need for booklets and markers anymore… she was deeply into the whole thing.
Then I realized: she does like theater, but from the stage. To complete the transformation, she left the school where she studied and moved on to study theater at Ironi A High School, where theater became a field of interest and the essence, her being and the center of her world. Peter Brook, Eunesco, Antonin Arto, Stanislavki and especially Hanoch Levin, became common names in our home. She absolutely started speaking the Theatr-ese language. I remember one night, I think when she was towards the end of the 10th grade, she woke me up and was hysterical at two in the morning. She literally shook me, screaming. I jumped out of bed, grabbed the phone next to it and thought: “Who should I call first, the police? The firefighters? Maybe an ambulance? Has a fire broken out? Has a thief come in? Has anyone fainted?” I was shaking all over, and I asked her: “What happened?”. And she replied: “I have an idea for a monologue!” And I, instead of saying to her: “Hey, are you mad?? Is that why you wake me up hysterically and give me a heart attack?”, instead of doing so, I just sat down on the bed and said, “Oh, nice, what’s the idea?” Just like that, I went with her flow. I realized the importance of theater for her to such an extent that I too lost my sense of proportion a bit.
When she finished high school, she was admitted to the IDF Theater Ensemble. And there… I found it harder to go with her flow. You can bet I gave her my ardent leftist speeches in favor of alternative national service, but when I received the news that her performances at the bases were making the soldiers laugh, in secret, when no one was watching, I beamed with pride. One day, during her military service, Tarin saw Robin Williams’ film about Patch Adams. The moment the film ended, even before the credits rolled, she enrolled in medical clowning studies at the Kibbutzim Seminary. The idea of combining acting and clowning as a therapeutic element thrilled her. By the time she was discharged from the military she had already earned a medical clowning certificate and a name, as with any clown: “I’m Pompa, pleased to meet you”. And instead of going on a trek in Nepal or to an ashram in India, she chose, as the big post-army trip, to volunteer as a medical clown at a children’s hospital in Boston.
Clowning was a way of life for her. And even throughout a year and a half of treatments, she did not stop being the medical clown, whose patient-audience happened to be herself. One day a medical clown visited the oncology ward at Ichilov. Max – that was his name – went through the rooms. He also went to the room where Tarin was hospitalized. All of a sudden, spontaneously, they improvised a segment with such wonderful coordination that it looked like they had been rehearsing for at least three months. The situation was surreal. In bed lies a clown in pajamas, connected to an infusion of chemotherapy, in front of her stands another clown she had never met, with colorful clothes and a red nose, and both are having a heated exchange in a mix of Hebrew, nonsense, gibberish and some other languages I did not recognize (and I doubt they did), on topics of great importance, such as, who has a longer pinky. And the exchange got heated and reached high tones until finally, after about half an hour, they came to a conclusive and unequivocal conclusion. And don’t ask me what it was because I’m not really sure, mainly because at this point all of us in the room, including the woman in the bed next to Tarin, were already rolling on the floor laughing. But I can attest that there was a solemn handshake to mark the end of the debate. Then the clown turned to leave and Tarin gave him clear instructions combining gibberish and pantomime, how to get out of the room without bumping into the doorframe. Well, this is essential information for a person who wants to leave a room. When he got to the door according to the exact instructions he was given, he waved goodbye and she waved at him, and again he waved and again she waved, and he left, without bumping into the doorframe. As soon as he was gone, Tarin said to me: “Call the nurse, I need a painkiller”.
Theater and acting were Tarin’s essence. So, the moment she received the news about cancer, in the midst of acting studies at Yoram Loewenstein’s studio, she decided that she would channel this treatment period into artistic creation. When she told me she was going to write a monodrama about her battle with cancer, I must admit I was a little skeptical. I absolutely believed in her talent, but I feared she would lack one element, just one, which is basic to writing: perspective.
It is impossible to write from the bleeding wound, and yet, in order to write a significant work a certain distance is required. And Tarin actually wrote the play live from the heart of the darkness of her treatments. With the intravenous chemotherapy infusion and during the nauseous spells that followed, and on days when she was too weak to get out of bed. I was afraid it was going to be some kind of tormented drama on a cancer patient the sky had come tumbling down on. Then I got to read the play. And as soon as I read the first sentence it was possible to recognize the humor and the irony and the joy of life and also the…. yes, perspective. The same precious ingredient without which no meaningful artistic creation can exist. Tarin managed to look at the situation from the side and make fun of it, make fun of herself, the people around her, her partner, and her mom. And this is an ability that not every writer is blessed with.
A lot of superlatives have been written and said about this wonderful play, ‘Moving the Sun’, but in my eyes one of her great achievements is that it was written without a shred of self-pity, as if it was written about someone else.
Yes, the eight-year-old girl who wandered around the theater during the show, scribbled on drawing books out of boredom and nagged that she wanted to go home, became an impressive and profound theater woman and most importantly: full of irony and perspective, because without this, the whole thing is worth nothing.
Tarin’s death left a monstrous void in almost every aspect of my existence. I will miss her and cry out my parting with her as long as there is life in me. But perhaps one of the aspects I will miss the most is our arguments after watching shows together. Because when we didn’t agree on something, people could hear it even two blocks away.
When the author Nissim Aloni died, Dori Parnas, who was a very close friend of his, said that he felt like posting a newspaper ad, in the jobs section: “Seeking a playwright, preferably a genius, for friendship”. So not exactly in a paraphrase of Dori’s sentence, missing an eldest daughter, smart, funny, and sharp-witted, with whom one can argue about plays.
Rest in peace, my eternal beloved.