This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
This March 25, 26, and 27, Columbia University is bringing staged readings of three acclaimed Palestinian plays to New York City:
The three-day festival is being curated by Palestinian-American playwright Ismail Khalidi. The works overlap with an upcoming anthology of plays, Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora, due out this June from Theatre Communications Group, co-edited by Khalidi and Naomi Wallace.
The three works are:
“I am Yusuf and This is My Brother,” by Amir Nizar Zuabi, set for Wednesday, March 25
“Land/Fill,” by Dalia Taha, set for Thursday, March 26
“603,” by Imad Farajin, trans. Hassan Abdulrazzak, set for Friday, March 27
All performances are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in Columbia University’s Earl Hall Theater. More details are available on the event’s Facebook page.
According to organizers, the three plays “resist historical, political and geographic erasures.”
Zuabi’s “I Am Yusuf and This is My Brother” tackles the Nakba, or the 1948 dispossession of many Palestinians, and was previously staged in London in 2010. A review in The Guardian called is a “compelling new play” that promises to to “thrust the discomforting story” of the Nakba “back into public scrutiny.”
Zuabi told The Guardian that the play “began as a personal investigation to scrape away layers of myth. ‘Why did people make the decision to leave? Or did they make the decision to leave? What would you have done?'”
The last play, Imad Farajin’s 603, was previously published in Plays from the Arab World (2010), and is a striking look inside an Israeli prison.
603 finds wonderful layers of story, surprise, disappointment, and metaphor in the lives of the imprisoned Mosquito, Boxman, Slap, and Snake. The most sympathetic character is the writer, Slap, who tells and re-tells of how he was imprisoned for slapping an Israeli officer who had slapped a student of his. However, when one of his prison-mates finds his secret writings, Slap’s real story turns out to be far more embarrassing and sympathetic.
The forthcoming anthology, Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora, will have one play from the “Permission to Narrate” series, Farajin’s 603. The others are Dalia Taha’s Keffiyeh/Made in China, which premeired in Brussels; Abdelfattah Abusrour’s Handala, which debuted in France; Hannah Khalil’s Plan D, shortlisted for the Meyer Whitworth new play award; Betty Shamieh’s Territories, staged in San Francisco; and Ismail Khalidi’s Tennis in Nablus, which was previously staged at Columbia University and reviewed on ArabLit.
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