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.
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 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 (see details below).
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 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 Greenblattin 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. 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.
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.
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
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
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- The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad) – book review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television