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Masada – HerStory: The performance, 2018

Masada – HerStory

After the fall of Jerusalem and Judea to the Romans in 70 CE, the fortress of Masada remained the last rebels’ stronghold.

Following several months of siege, the rebels committed collective suicide in an ultimate gesture of freedom on the spring of 73 CE.

Not one living soul remained to fall into the hands of the Romans, or so believed the last fighter.

Yet “an old woman escaped, along with another who was related to Eleazar, in intelligence and education superior to most women, and five little children. They had hidden in the conduits that brought drinking-water underground while the rest were intent upon the suicide-pact.”

Further more, it was these women who conveyed the story to the Romans when they entered the fortress at dawn: “…Seeing no enemy, but dreadful solitude on every side, fire within, and silence, they were at a loss to guess what had happened…the noise came to the ears of the women, who emerged from the conduits and gave the Romans a detailed account of what had happened, the second of them providing a lucid report of Eleazar’s speech and the action that had followed.”

Josephus Flavius, Of the Jewish War, Book VII, Chap VIII

The performance and movie are inspired by the quiet rebellion of two women against their leader, Elazar ben Yair, a rebellion usually not recounted.

Each of the 5 women performing, relate to Masada in their own way, locked in their solitude in contrast to the dreary expanse of Masada. One woman cry for Masada in the empty Southern cistern, another plays the flute amongst the ruins of Masada. A mother reads the story of the survivors to her son in the synagogue, while another, expresses her sorrow by covering her face and head in gauze. The women meet only a brief moment as they stand around a women in burial shrouds lying amongst the remnants of a long gone palace.

And at sunset, Masada once again wrap herself in her cloak of mystery:

“Here stand mountains round about, congealed and silent. They are eternal witnesses, ever intelligent, seeing everything always, hearing everything always, and knowing how vain the toil of the climbers has always been.”  (Yitzhak Lamdan, Masada: A Historical Epic 1927).

Filmed at Masada, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Judean Desert, Israel

Cast:  Hagar Dagan (flutiste), Maya Yogel (dancer), Yaeli Tai (singer), Alexandra Lavastine (mummy),Sigal and Avner Weissbein (mother and son).

Crew: Talia (Tulik) Galon (cinematographer), Lior Mamon (assistant cinematographer), Ishai Ilan (sound), Aviv Kegen (Aerial cinematographer), Idit Algem (makeup), costumes designer: Lera Lamberg, photos: Gal Mosenson

I am extremely grateful to Mary Liling, Professor Amnon Ben Tor from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archeology, and Eitan Campbell, Masada National Park’s previous director, for their help and support all along this project. I am grateful to The Israel Museum for the use of the map of Masada by Dom Augustin Antoine Calmet, France, 1672-1757, After Jean Doubdan, Siege et Prise de Massada par les Romains, Etching, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, gift of Benjamin and Rena Weiss, Zurich, in memory of the late Helen Stone Laor and her husband, the late Eran Laor. Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Elie Posner


Ariane Littman