‘Permission to Narrate’: Three Nights of Palestinian Plays

This March 25, 26, and 27, Columbia University is bringing staged readings of three acclaimed Palestinian plays to New York City:

11041723_808538339182055_4141466505223907900_nThe 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 Diasporadue 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?'”

Although Dalia Taha’s Land/Fill hasn’t gotten a previous staging of this prominence, her Fireworks was staged at London’s Royal Court Theatre in February and March of this year.

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.

content603 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 Diasporawill 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 Dshortlisted for the Meyer Whitworth new play award; Betty Shamieh’s Territories, staged in San Francisco; and Ismail Khalidi’s Tennis in Nabluswhich was previously staged at Columbia University and reviewed on ArabLit.