Bat-Sheva Zeisler is an actress and a singer and was the star of one of Israel’s most famous cultural creations connected to the Six Day War – the satirical cabaret “You, Me and The Next War”. In 1967 she was studying theater at Tel-Aviv University, where she met Hanoch Levine who wrote the cabaret. Levine’s interest in the relationship between Jews and Arabs began before the war, and he and Alex Kagan, who wrote some of the show’s music, turned to Zeisler when they decided to try to put on a show that would include their songs.
After the war, and after Zeisler completed her studies, Levine brought his material to the director Edna Shavit, who was Zeisler’s teacher. Shavit invited a few of her former students to read the material, and the actors that starred in “You, Me and the Next War” came out of this group. The material was not easy, and among the actors were some that decided to refuse to appear, but eventually the ensemble was formed. The cabaret was written during the production process, materials were added and removed, changed and improved, and the ensemble learned to work together until they were ready to perform the cabaret.
“You, Me and the Next War” drew a lot of attention when it was first performed. People were hurt by it and had challenges dealing with the difficult messages even when delicately delivered, but others found an echo in it to their own feelings and emotions, and came again and again to watch it. The cabaret was performed all over Israel, and in some places met hostility and even violence. Zeisler tells about a performance in a kibbutz where chairs were thrown at the stage and a few of the people in the audience started to take apart the stage while the show was being staged. But the audiences that accepted them with the most understanding, says Zeisler, were the injured and the bereaved families, who brought others to watch the show to explain their own feelings about the war and its horrors.
Performing in “You, Me and the Next War” was a formative experience in Zeisler’s life. The people she met all around the country, the emotions to which she was exposed and the lessons she learned remain with her to this day.
In 2004 the ensemble reunited to put on a renewed version of the cabaret, since its truths are eternal