A Groundbreaking New Play Anthology to Tour Australia
A Boston-born Jew in Montreal and a Gaza-born Palestinian in Melbourne have just published the first English-language anthology worldwide in any genre of drama, prose or poetry by Jewish and Palestinian writers.
The winner of Canada's prestigious biennial 2017 Patrick O'Neill Award, Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas is edited by award-winning playwrights Stephen Orlov of Montreal and Samah Sabawi of Melbourne, one of each of their acclaimed plays also featuring in the anthology.
Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas is available via Amazon, Booktopia and at selected bookstores Australia wide. To purchase a copy follow this link.
Following panels and readings to sell-out audiences at writers festivals and events in New York City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, Orlov and Sabawi have arrived in Australia to discuss the plays and their unique collaboration editing this captivating anthology about the most inflammatory ongoing regional conflict of the past seventy years.
Orlov and Sabawi will discuss the complexities, obstacles and revelations in editing this groundbreaking collection of plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Sydney Writer's Festival and special events in Melbourne and Adelaide from 26 May to 8 June.
The book delivers compelling stories with authentic characters that challenge one of the remaining thematic taboos for most major theatres in the Western world, fueled for decades by prejudice, ignorance and timidity for decades.
This provocative collection of drama stylistically turns the political into the personal. The seven plays vary in genre between drama and comedy, in aesthetic between realism and surrealism, in setting between the Diasporas and Israel/Palestine, and in the political opinions of their characters. Collectively they offer distinct diaspora perspectives on this seemingly endless conflict.
"The Diaspora journey from page to stage is marked by the cultural footprints of our ancestors and the emotional, material and familial ties of so many to the conflict. This is an issue for all of humanity, not merely for Jews and Palestinians," says Orlov and Sabawi in the anthology's preface. Read the full preface here.
This unique anthology about the Israel-Palestine conflict includes three plays written by Jewish playwrights, three by Palestinian playwrights, and one by both, along with interviews with the playwrights exploring the inspirations and challenges they experienced both in writing and staging their work.
The plays are penned by highly acclaimed dramatists now residing in the diaspora of five continents: Bitterenders by Hannah Khalil in Ireland; Facts by Arthur Milner in Gatineau, Québec; The Peace Maker by Natasha Greenblatt in Toronto; Sabra Falling by Ismail Khalidi in Chile; Sperm Count by Stephen Orlov in Montreal; Tales of a City by the Sea by Samah Sabawi in Australia; and Twenty-One Positions: A Cartographic Dream of the Middle East by Abdelfattah AbuSrour in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, West Bank, Lisa Schlesinger in America, and Naomi Wallace in England; with introductions and interviews by award-winning American Playwrights, Karen Hartman and Betty Shamieh.
Sabawi's inspiration for Tales of a City by the Sea and later for the anthology was influenced by her own experiences and stories of family and loved ones under Israeli siege in Gaza.
She elaborates, "We've been through very tough times. The worst for me was during the 51 days in 2014 when Gaza was being bombarded and I feared for my family's safety. But you always need to pick yourself up and stay the course. I believe this anthology has a vital role to play in challenging western convictions about the conflict and in breaking the taboos that we've normalized for so long in mainstream theatres."
The play's simultaneous world premieres in Melbourne and the West Bank, along with an Australian tour, played to sold-out houses, but its Gaza premiere had to be cancelled because of destruction and casualties from Israeli bombing raids.
Orlov's play Sperm Count had its world premiere in London during a politically-charged time shortly after 9-11 and the launching of the War in Afghanistan. The theatre received several anonymous bomb threats, which the cast and crew bravely defied, fortunately without incident.
He is now writing his commissioned play, Birthmark, the third in his dual-diaspora trilogy, and explains his role as a progressive Jewish dramatist: "Plays that promote peace and social justice must be delivered by characters portraying a range of human frailty and strength along the moral spectrum, characters in conflict true to their times, their place and their culture. My greatest challenge as a Jewish playwright tackling plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is creating with anecdotal accuracy, authentic Palestinian characters free of stereotypical depiction. I suspect the same is true for most Palestinian playwrights creating Jewish characters. Cultural appropriation must be avoided, but if Jewish writers don't dare to cross the cultural divide with diligence and mutual respect, we will fall short of our visionary goal."
Australian audiences can catch Stephen Orlov and Samah Sabawi speaking at the following festivals at events.
Sydney Writers Festival
1:30pm - 3:30pm 26 May
Sydney Dance 1, Pier 4/5, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
FREE event, no bookings required.
6:30pm - 8:00pm 29 May
Female Orphan School, Conference Room 1, Building EZ, Western Sydney University, Cnr James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road Rydalmere, NSW 2116
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society and the Side Door Present
7:00pm - 9:00pm 4 June
The Side Door, St. John's Uniting Church, 567 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick
Free event, no bookings required. Gold coin donation accepted at door.
6:30pm 5 June
Readings St Kilda, 112 Acland St, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182
Free event, bookings suggested via https://www.readings.com.au/event/double-exposure
Australian Friends of Palestine Association Present
5:30pm - 7:00pm 8 June
The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA, 5000
Free event, registration is essential via http://www.afopa.com.au/afopa-events/2017/5/16/double-exposure-plays-of-the-jewish-and-palestinian-diaspora