Voices From a Changing Middle East Reading Series 2011



Theater J is pleased to announce a new installment of its “Voices from a Changing Middle East” program, October 28 - November 28, 2011. This season's five-play, five-week reading series will explore a variety of works pertaining to Israeli society and the antecedents to the Egyptian Revolution. Continuing Theater J's robust, multi-year engagement with countless aspects of Israeli political, social and cultural life, these plays both touch upon, and go beyond, “The Conflict” to tell stories that deal with environmental, social justice and domestic concerns for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East. Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth observes that the series is “a good opportunity to maintain our strong dialogue with Israel and its artists as they portray the dramas within and surrounding them, while inviting in other artistic viewpoints to sensitively enlarge the portraiture of so many clamoring voices from the always-changing Middle East region.”

Tickets for all readings are available at the door. No advance sales.   


Fri Oct 28 at 2:15 pm BOGED (Traitor) 

by Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez Based on Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Directed by Derek Goldman
Featuring: Jeff Allin, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh,Mark Halpern,Laura Harris,Kathryn Kelley, Michael Kramer, Richard Pelzman, Michael Tolaydo and Clark Young

In the Washington DCJCC Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Library as part of our Tea@2 New Play Reading Series, Tickets $5.00

A sudden chemical leak shakes up a small Southern town at the edges of the Israeli desert. The town’s Mayor is quick to explain that “the crisis is behind us” and that the neighboring industrial park, Eshel City, the economic lifeline of the town, will continue to expand despite “unpatriotic attacks” from environmental activists arguing against its expansion. Simon’s brother, Dr. Tommy Douany, knows the true price of Eshel City’s continued growth; that the factories polluting the town's aquifer indeed may lead to the poisoning of much of Israel's water supply. What begins as a family feud quickly turns into all out political war, threatening to rob Tommy of his reputation, livelihood, family and future. He will discover the true price of becoming a boged, An Enemy of the People.

Boaz Gaon is one of Israel's leading young playwrights, journalists and political activists. His adaptation of Return to Haifa was produced by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, and presented to wide acclaim as part of Theater J’s 2010-2011 season and its Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival focusing on “Portraits of Home,” a festival which also included Gaon's Argentina, which recently concluded a premiere run at the Haifa Theatre.




by Robbie Gringras
In conjunction with Makom
Directed by Robbie Gringras
Featuring Laura Gianerelli, Robbie Gringras and Alexander Strain

In the Washington DCJCC Ina and Jack Kay Community Hall as part of our Tea@2 New Play Reading Series, Tickets $5.00

Using interactive groups and live theater, Makom, the Israel Engagement project of the Jewish Agency for Israel, explores dimensions of the Jewish Community's “Big Tent”. When Alyssa, a confident and committed Jewish Artistic Director of the Jewish Theater housed in the JCC, commits to producing a play by Toni, a radical lesbian Jewish playwright and activist in Israel Apartheid Week, the myriad responses reverberate throughout the Jewish community. The electric debate spreads throughout the Jewish Federation to Jewish philanthropic organizations and households. This dynamic new piece raises questions of how to create exciting, thought provoking art, while honoring and celebrating the many divergent opinions encompassed by the ‘big blue tent’ of the Jewish community. It will premiere at The Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly Opening Session on November 6.



Sun Nov 6 at 9:30 am IN SPITTING DISTANCE 

A monologue play by Taher Najib , English Translation by Ros Schwartz, from the French translation by Jacqueline Carnaud and Taher Najib.
Presented in conjunction with Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, with Peace Café discussion to follow
Directed by Richard Stein
Featuring Maboud Ebrahimzadeh

At Busboys and Poets, Hyattsville MD
5331 Baltimore Avenue
Hyattsville, Maryland 20781
(301) 779-2787
Free Admission

A penetrating, humorous look at growing up in Ramallah and the perplexities of being an Arab traveler after 9/11. This virtuoso solo performance-piece, presented for the first time in English, describes the farcical journey of a Palestinian actor holding an Israeli passport, leaving behind the aimlessness of spitting sunflower seeds in Ramallah for the romance of Paris, who then tries to fly home from France on the wrong day. In Spitting Distance won first prize at the TheaterNetto Festival in Tel Aviv, and has since been staged at Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris.

Taher Najib worked as an actor in Ramallah before moving to Paris. He returned to work with director Ofira Henig on a theatre project in Tel Aviv. It was this journey that prompted him to begin writing In Spitting Distance. 


 Fri Nov 11, at 2:00 pm BEST FRIENDS

by Anat Gov translated by Anthony Berris
Directed by Johanna Gruenhut

In the Washington DCJCC Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Library as part of our Tea@2 New Play Reading Series, Tickets $5.00

A "sizzlingly funny" analysis of female friendship by Israel's most successful comic playwright. Tirzah, Sophie and Lelly are a seemingly inseparable threesome, but between adolescence and middle age, mysterious events have led to a rift in their friendship. The play travels from their first bonding experience, sharing cigarettes in the girls’ bathroom,-to an awkward tea party twenty years later, and asks: Can the bonds of friendship survive diverging fortunes in lifestyle, family and career? This hit play peels back the layers of laughs, bitching and betrayals that take three women through enmity back to friendship.

Anat Gov currently has three plays currently running in repertory at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv including A Warm Family, Happy End, and Oh, God, and is the author of the hits Lysistrata 2000, and Househusband.




Mon Nov 28 at 7:30 pm Portraits of Egypt


by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Shirley Serotsky

In the Washington DCJCC Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, Tickets $5.00, available at the door

Lyrical, delicate and suffused with moments of haunting theatricality, these plays look into the pulsing soul and private lives of modern day Egypt. In Such A Beautiful Voice Is Sayeda’s, jinns (spirits) lurk near; flattering dresses and lipstick are evidence of infidelities; and a woman's sudden discovery of her own beautiful singing voice threatens to bring dishonor and ruin to herself and her family.

In Karima’s City, Karima's beloved metropolis is changing about her at a dizzying pace. The seeds-and-nuts vendor, the fruit seller, and the butcher who used to greet her each morning no longer do. Everywhere concrete monstrosities are rising and the trees are vanishing. These changes make Karima physically ill, and she can no longer keep silent. But whenever she speaks her mind, all manner of suffering befalls her. In a society that judges iconoclasts as shameful, dangerous and a menace, it slowly becomes apparent that Karima’s devastating fate has already been written. Touching on issues of enormous significance in the Islamic world, this finely wrought play bubbles with unexpected charm and humor as it leads to its inexorable conclusion.

 “[El Guindi] brings a poetically charged voice to the struggle by Muslim women to sound their own voices in this impressive pair of one acts.” —The Los Angeles Times

Yuseff El Guindi is an Egyptian-American playwright living in Seattle, where he just won that city's 2011 Clifford Award for Outstanding Playwright for his play Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World produced by ACT Theatre