Palestinian-Israeli actor Makram Khoury was the youngest artist and the first Arab to win the Israel Prize, the highest artistic honor in the country. He is one of Israel's most respected actors, playing leads in all the major theatres as well as acting in films and on television. Khoury is an actor's actor: subtle, powerful and protean. He embodies many of the paradoxes of Israeli society. He was born to a Christian-Arab family who belonged to the Greek Orthodox church: Greek Orthodox, Christian, Arab, Palestinian. He and his family fled to Lebanon during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. After five months of unemployment, Makram's lawyer father decided to risk returning rather than live in a refugee camp. Makram's family found housing in the Northern Israeli city of Acco. When he graduated high school in 1963, he went to study at The Hebrew University but soon dropped out to act. He trained with Jacqueline Kronberg-an American teacher who had worked with Second City-and also got involved with an Arab Theatre in Haifa. Eventually he went to Drama School in England. When he returned, even though he soon began getting work at The Cameri Theatre and the Haifa Municipal Theatre, he experienced an identity crisis. The Cameri arranged coaching for him in voice, diction and Hebrew. No professional Arabic theatre existed in Israel, only amateur companies. To fulfill himself as an actor, he had to work in Hebrew. Khoury came to a compromise with this situation through dreams." With help from his friend Anton Shamas, a distinguished Palestinian-Israeli writer, he decoded a message from his own unconscious. He saw himself as a clown in a circus sitting on a unicycle going around a circle, balancing with arms spread out, saying, 'I'm breathing, I'm alive! & saw a coin with two heads on the handlebars. On one side it said 'Israeli-Arab,' on the other, 'Israeli.' Acting managed to cure his wounds. Maintaining this balance is particularly challenging for Makram since the 2nd Intifada began. "I started to blame and hate my colleagues. I said: How will I go up on the Israeli stage and act in Hebrew? I can't, I can't. Then I see all these bombs, these terrorist acts that I disagree with, like many other Palestinians, and that brings me back to the balancing." Makram's wife Wadia is an Art Teacher. Two of his children - Clara & Jamil- are also actors. His daughter Rula is a Project Manager at The Science Museum in Jerusalem.
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