Can a play without a plot change the story in the Middle East? Tuesday, the Tyler School of Art will present “Six Actors In Search of a Plot,” both a Palestinian and Israeli theater initiative.
The play is a product of Peace Child Israel, an Israeli organization striving to teach coexistence through the performing arts. Goals of the organization are education for democracy, pluralism and tolerance in Israel. The play, performed in a new English translation, boasts a cast that is half Palestinian-Israeli and half Jewish-Israeli.
The plot is arranged around the concept of this diverse group attempting to find a common story that they can both agree on.
Two midwives eventually appear, sharing a tale of humanism and life that is both moving and thought-provoking. Co-written by Palestinian-Muslim playwright Muhammad Ahmed Zaher and Jewish-American director/choreographer Billy Yalowitz,
the play prides itself on being unbiased and sensitive to both sides of the conflict in Israel and the Middle East.
Dialogue and communication, a means of increasing both understanding and awareness among the actors, will also be incorporated into the performances.
Each night the play is followed by discussions with artists and audience
Yalowitz, an art education professor at Temple, is currently teaching a community arts course in which students look at both sides of the issue and the history behind it. Using art as a medium for public awareness, students are studying to see how artists can act as peace builders and cultural activists.
The course also looks at the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects identities and lives in the U.S.
“I’m hoping that a lot of people will turn out who don’t know a lot about what’s going on, and it will bring about discussion,” said senior religion major Julia Bertalan, a student in Yalowitz’s class.
“I don’t believe that art alone can bring about peace. But other things can, like communication from people who are updated
and know about the situation. Then art can do a lot.”
The play, previously performed in Hebrew
and Arabic in Israel, recently finished a series of performances in New York City, at the Culture Project’s first annual Impact Festival and at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. The play will be held Tuesday Oct. 10, at 8 p.m. in the Conwell Hall Dance Theater, located on the fifth floor. Tickets are free with an Owl Card, but donations are accepted.
Other performances will be held in Philadelphia through Oct. 15, including a noon performance Oct. 12 at the National Museum of American Jewish History at Independence Mall East.
A panel discussion will be held that night at 6 p.m., allowing local artists to share their thoughts.
Jessica Cohen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.