Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Conundrum

During my recent visit to Israel, I saw a proliferation of politically-themed plays and engaged in discussions about them with the creators and with colleagues from around the world.

Interestingly, this has led to invitations to become involved in a number of theatre projects in various capacities--writer, producer, director, dramaturg, shoulder-to-cry-on, 5 cent psychiatrist, etc.

Well, after all, the 'Doctor is in.'

One of the projects involves a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian artists under the direction of an internationally acclaimed director in a play by Shakespeare.

Sounds like a worthy endeavor and one that can promote understanding between the two peoples and by outsiders who have little grasp of the roots of the conflict.

But there are formidable challenges to uniting such a group of artists in light of the mistrust that exists between Palestinians and Israelis today--even among those who would like to see a peaceful solution respectful of both sides.

Many people know of the renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim's East-Western Divan Orchestra, comprised of young Arab and Israeli musicians. Much has been written about its creation, a joint project of Barenboim, who is an Argentinian/Israeli, and the late Edward Said, who was a professor at Columbia University and an outspoken advocate of Palestinian rights and critic of Israeli policies. As controversial as was their pairing together to establish this ensemble, the orchestra has won world-wide praise for its admirable goals of bringing these young people together to make music and, in so doing, detoxifying their preconceived notions of each other.

I know we will be looking to that model as both inspiration and for some practical solutions to our new project, and I look forward to sharing more information about it here in my blog at the appropriate time.

Until next time...


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