MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Abraham’s Land

I just received this press release for the world premiere of Abraham’s Land at Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Avenue, Kirkland, WA,  July 15-18, 2021:

This original musical is by Seattle playwright Lauren Goldman Marshall and Pulitzer-nominated composer, Roger Ames, with additional music by David Nafissian and Paul Linnes, at Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Avenue, Kirkland, WA,  July 15-18, 2021. 

A public preview performance is scheduled for Thursday, July 15, at 11 am PST to reach audiences in Israel, West Bank and Gaza, where it will be 9 pm.  Remaining performances will be at 7 PM on July 15 (opening night), 16, and 17,  and 2 PM on Sunday, July 18. For ticketing, live and livestream, go to www.kpcenter.org or call 425-893-9900. 

Thirty years in the making, Abraham’s Land began as a Jewish/Palestinian collaboration, by Lauren Goldman Marshall, Hanna Eady, and David Nafissian, and was first performed in Seattle in 1992.  Marshall further developed it with Palestinian and Israeli youth at Seeds of Peace International Camp in 1999.  The current rendition features a new libretto and score. 

The three lead roles are played by Jewish-American, Israeli, and Palestinian-American actors. Abraham’s Land tells a human story, set against the backdrop of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, during the First Intifada.  Israeli Sergeant Yitzhak prides himself on being an ethical soldier, but when a Palestinian demonstration in Jerusalem appears threatening, he fatally shoots the provocateur, Ismail. 

Devastated to learn that the victim was unarmed, Yitzhak is haunted by Ismail’s ghost.  Disguising himself as a Palestinian, Yitzhak journeys to a refugee camp in Gaza to return Ismail’s identity card and ask his family for forgiveness.  In the process, he experiences the humanity of the other side and the darker aspect of his own.  Ultimately, he must choose between making amends and his duty to his country. 

With recent changes in Israeli leadership, increasing tensions and violence in the region, the reexamination of the United States’ role in the Middle East, and the rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and tribalism in the United States and abroad, this work is especially timely.  

This innovative production is directed by acclaimed director David Grabarkewitz, former Resident Director at the New York City Opera.  Music director Paul Linnes conducts a seven-member ensemble.  Choreography is by Kathryn Van Meter and Waseem Sbait.  The 22-member racially and culturally diverse, professional cast is drawn from New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle.  It features Michael Strass, Netanel Bellaishe, Maria Habeeb, Hassan Nazari-Robati, David Studwell, Bobbi Kotula, Danya El-Kurd, Camilla Ethridge & Paul Shapiro, along with a multi-generational ensemble.  

Each performance will be followed by a post-play discussion, with representatives from local Jewish and Muslim communities.  In addition, the Saturday performance will feature a pre-show talk by a visiting public health professional and mother from Gaza, Alaa Hammouda, who will share her story from her perspective as a 30-year resident of Gaza.  Further, an interactive workshop on Saturday 1-3 PM PST, will use techniques from Theater of the Oppressed to explore issues in the play. 

General admission is $39, students & seniors $25, with discounts for groups of ten or more.  Day of show rush tickets, as available, will be offered for $20, and for youth through TeenTix for $5.  Livestream performances are pay-what-you-can, with levels ranging from $1 to $20.

Filed under: musical, theater

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