Now available in paperback Tales of a City by the Sea

If only our bodies were bulletproof

If only our boats were made of steel

If only our dreams were real.

Gaza, 2008.

A Palestinian journalist writes poetry on the beach.
A doctor must decide to stay or leave.
Then come the missiles and the phosphorus showers.

This is a furious and tender exploration of the fragility of freedom. The national collides with the personal as activism and reporting take to the stage. Tales of a City by the Sea uses poetry, tenderness and humour to explore the love between those who have choices, and those who do not. Language fails us when it comes to displacement and grief; yet Samah Sabawi’s language cracks grief open and remains present, like the sea.

Tales of a City by the Sea was staged twice in 2014: at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne and at the Aida refugee camp in Palestine.

Click on the image to purchase the bookimage_thumbnail2.aspx

 

Allow us to introduce ourselves! The Tales of a City by the Sea 2016 creative team

We come from diverse backgrounds including Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Malta, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, Bengal,  India, Chile and the UK.  We have people of various faiths including the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.  Our play is a celebration of the power of inclusivity and a testimony to breaking down cultural and racial barriers!

Writer  Samah Sabawi

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Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian Australian Canadian playwright, commentator and poet. Her plays Cries From The Land and Three Wishes had successful runs in Canada; Tales Of A City By The Sea enjoyed a sold-out season at La Mama in 2014 and an Arabic premiere at Alrowwad’s Cultural Theater Society in Palestine, and was selected for the 2016 VCE Drama Playlist. Sabawi’s poems feature in WITH OUR EYES WIDE OPEN (West End Press 2014), GAZA UNSILENCED (Just World Books 2015) and I REMEMBER MY NAME (Novum Publishing 2016). She is co-editor of  DOUBLE EXPOSURE: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas (Playwrights Canada Press 2016).

Original Direction Lech Mackiewicz

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Lech Mackiewicz is a Polish director, playwright, and actor. He formed Auto Da Fe Theatre Company in Sydney in 1987. He specialises in creating intercultural collaborative performance, having directed theatre in Poland, Japan, China, Korea, and Australia. Lech’s directing credits include: Felliniana (Belvoir St Theatre); King Lear (Playbox Theatre); Kafka Tanczy (Teatr Zydowski); Beckett in Circles (Suzuki Company of Toga); An Oak Tree (Teatr Wegierki); The Hour Before My Brother Dies (Teatr Jaracza); and Everyman and the Pole Dancers (Metanoia Theatre). He is a graduate of the National Academy of Theatrical Arts (PWST) in Cracow, and the University of Technology Sydney.

2016 Remount Direction Wahibe Moussa 

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Wahibe Moussa is an award-winning performance maker, and writer. In 2007, Wahibe received the Green Room Award for her role as “Mahala” in Theatre @ Risk’s production of Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul. In 2014 she was one of ten dramaturgy interns at Melbourne Theatre Company, a Playwriting Australia Fellowship initiative. Wahibe’s practice is informed by her own experiences as a migrant child, her collaborations with Refugee Artists, and a commitment to understanding Indigenous performance and story making practices. This is Wahibe’s directorial debut.

Producer and Set Design Lara Week

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Lara Week is a designer for performance and creative producer. Her design credits include: NaGL: Not a Good Look (Metanoia Theatre), Between Heaven and Her (La Mama Theatre), and The Conference of the Birds (Centre for Cultural Partnerships). Since 2011, she has been associate producer for Tribal Soul Arts, producing decolonial arts programs and performances in Africa, Europe, and Australia. She is dedicated to creating spaces where people with different skills and perspectives can share ideas and produce work together.

Lighting Design Shane Grant

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Shane Grant has been Audio Visual Technician for St Kevin’s College for the past nine years. Previously, he was Production Manager with Strange Fruit and Technical Manager at Gasworks Theatre. Shane is an accomplished lighting designer having worked extensively with companies like Ranters Theatre, The Torch Project, NYID, La Mama and many others. Shane has a BA Dramatic Arts (Production) VCA from 1994. He sits on the Green Room Awards Association Theatre Companies Panel. Shane is currently an artistic director at Metanoia Theatre and the Technical Manager of the Mechanics Institute theatre in Brunswick.

Sound Design Khaled Sabsabi

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Khaled Sabsabi works across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging media based experiences. He is a socially-engaged artist who specialises in multimedia and site-specific installations that often involve people on the margins of society. Khaled has worked in detention centres, schools, prisons, refugee camps, settlements, hospitals and youth centres, in the Australian and broader international context. Khaled makes work that is in continual transfer from the physical to the philosophical, to interconnect the interrelatedness and cycles of life.

Sound Mixer Max Schollar-Root

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From his roots in The Australian Theatre for Young People and the NSW Performing Arts Unit State Drama Ensemble, Max Schollar-Root found his passion in musical performance and composition while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He works as a band leader with Ungus Ungus Ungus, a theatrical and multi-modal performance project combining live music, technology, and dance, presenting nationally at large-scale festivals. As a Registered Music Therapist trained at The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music he runs early childhood music programs and works with adults with intellectual disabilities.

Production/Stage Manager Hayley Fox

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Hayley Fox gained a Bachelor of Creative Industries majoring in Theatre at QUT (2005) and a Master of Arts in Writing at Swinburne University (2010). Her most recent stage management credits include: Werther and The Spanish Hour with the Lyric Opera of Melbourne; The Road to Woodstock and An Evening with Sarah Vaughan for Neil Cole; Diva Power Regional Tour for Arts Events Australia; Wuthering Heights with the Australian Shakespeare Company; and In Between Two at the Sydney Festival for Performance4a.

Assistant Stage Manager James Crafti

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James Crafti is excited to be working on Tales of a City by the Sea as it combines two of his passions: theatre and Palestine. On the former James has directed a variety of plays such as Mutha, The Deserters, Rope, Creationism and Seven Jewish Children. He was also an assistant director on Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime. James has also been an organiser with Campaign Against Israeli Apartheid, Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Jews Against Israeli Apartheid.

Producer Daniel Clarke

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Daniel Clarke has worked in Australia, the UK and US as a theatre director, producer and artistic director. He is has recently taken on the role of Programmer, Performing Arts at Arts Centre Melbourne, after five fulfilling years as CEO and Creative Producer of Theatre Works, St Kilda. Daniel was the Artistic Director of Feast in 2007 and 2008, winning the prestigious Arts SA Ruby Award for Community Impact. He has also worked for Leicester Haymarket Theatre Company as Creative Producer/Associate Artist and was awarded the 2015 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award Facilitators Prize.

Helana Sawires – Jomana

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From a large, creative Egyptian family, Helana Sawires has always lived within the realm of the arts. Early on Helana developed a love for percussion, very much influenced by her father. Since graduating from Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (2011), Helana’s projects include: Short and Sweet Theatre Festival; Banana Boy (upcoming short); and W.O.W Casula Kid’s Festival (storyteller/drumming workshop). Helana landed her first major film role in 2015 in Ali’s Wedding (Matchbox Pictures). She was accepted into the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC (2014), completing a Chekhov Intensive Course, which further influenced her unique expression across all forms of art.

Osamah Sami – Rami

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Osamah Sami is a failed cricketer and a struggling Muslim. His memoir Good Muslim Boy was Highly Commended at the Victorian Premiere’s Literary Awards. He also co-wrote Ali’s Wedding, Australia’s first Muslim Rom-Com, and co-created the Web Series Two Refugees and a Blonde. Lead roles in films include Ali’s Wedding, Journey, 10 Terrorists! and Saved. TV roles include: Kick, East West 101, Rush, Sea Patrol, City Homicide and Jack Irish. He has performed at Belvoir St, MTC, La Mama and a dozen independent houses. His role as “Amor” in MTC’s I Call My Brothers earned him a Green Room nomination for Best Lead Actor.

Emina Ashman – Lama

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Emina is a Malaysian born actor, dancer and theatre-maker. Before relocating to Australia (2012), her theatre credits in Kuala Lumpur include Beasts and Beauties, Lysistrata and Fragments. As a 2014 VCA graduate, her credits include Agamemnon, The Three Sisters, The Little Prince and Plus Sign Attached (with Living Positive Victoria). Emina played “Julie Bishop” in Lucky Country (Melbourne Fringe 2014). Last year, she read the role of “Christine” in Michele Lee’s Moths for MTC. She also played “Antonia D’Agostino” in the sell-out season of Adam Cass’s Bock Kills Her Father (La Mama, Melbourne Fringe 2015). She has recently completed a diploma in creative writing, specialising in writing for performance and poetry.

Reece Vella – Ali

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Reece Vella graduated from The Actors College of Theatre and Television in Sydney (2010) and has been acting professionally for the past six years. Check out his Star now if you are into name-dropping. He harbours a passion for new, eccentric and challenging work. Since moving to Melbourne, Reece’s stage credits include: Everyman and The Pole Dancers; Tales of a City by the Sea; Between Heaven and Her; and most recently Night Sings Its Songs. Reece is elated and moved that a remount of Tales of a City by the Sea has taken life, confirming his everlasting hope in stories of humanity.

Alex Pinder – Abu Ahmed

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Alex Pinder works as an actor and theatre director. Recent credits at La Mama include performing in Waiting For Godot (as “Lucky”) and In the Middle of the Night and Other Stories, and directing Buzo’s Norm and Ahmed. Other work includes directing a reading of In The Day I left Home by Raahma N Kalsie, for MTC NEON 2015 and MTC Cybec 2016, playing “Page” in The Merry Wives of Windsor at 45 Downstairs and Perth’s Fortune Theatre, and “Howard” in The Dead Twin.

Rebecca Morton – Samira

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Rebecca Morton has been singing and acting all around Australia for longer than she cares to admit, from opera to music theatre to Shakespeare and Noel Coward with state theatre companies. She writes and tours highly portable, one act music theatre shows, and recently joined Alchemy 7, a group of artists who create a fusion of sculpture and song. She is also working with a new company, RAPt, which connects people through theatre. She is absolutely delighted and proud to be part of this very exciting and important play.

Cara Whitehouse – Multiple Roles

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Classically trained, Cara Whitehouse has played roles in children’s puppetry to the Greeks, working in Melbourne and Singapore. Recent work includes Tales of a City by the Sea (La Mama 2014), Remember M with innātum Theatre, The Woman in the Window, and “Elektra” in The Oresteia. Cara’s film work includes multiple shorts with a web series in development. A certified Fitzmaurice Voicework teacher, Cara’s training encompasses Conservatory Actor training at Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore, Knight-Thompson speech work (NYC) and continued training at the Howard Fine Acting Studio.

Aseel Tayah – Singer

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Aseel Tayah is a creative director, art producer and installation artist. She has been part of number of theatre productions at the Malthouse, Platform, La Mama, Polyglot and Metanoia Theatres, together with her own art works that have been displayed prominently in Palestine and Australia. She travels around the world to discover, photograph and be inspired by people’s cultures and histories. She creates interactive experiences that invite audiences to participate through her design of space, and the presence of her body and voice.

Ubaldino Mantelli – Multiple Roles

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Ubaldino was in the 2014 Melbourne premiere of Tales of a City by the Sea at La Mama. He’s played major theatrical roles in the Geelong region, including performing for the National Trust and in the ensemble-devised Daylight Savings, led by James Pratt. Ubaldino trained under Kerreen Ely-Harper, Stephen Costan, Jenny Lovell, Danielle Carter, Karen Davitt and Nicky Fearn in the VCA Acting Studio 12. He’s been a producer, presenter and performer on community radio. In 2016, Ubaldino can be seen in James Burke’s short film, Sick Home.

Poster Design and Cover Art by Ahmad Sabra and Aya El-Zinati. 

To buy tickets:

Melbourne: The show will be staged at the La Mama Courthouse theatre between May 11 – May 29th. La Mama Theatre is nationally and internationally acknowledged as a crucible for cutting edge, contemporary theatre since 1967. The Courthouse is located on 349 Drummond St, Carlton. Click here to purchase tickets for Melbourne shows.

Adelaide: The show will be staged at The Bakehouse Theatre June 8th to June 18th – June 18th. The Bakehouse is a charming, intimate live theatre at 255 Angas Street, near the east end (Hutt Street). Click here to purchase tickets for Adelaide shows.

Sydney: The show will run at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula. There will only be two performances scheduled for August 3rd. Click here to purchase tickets for Sydney shows.

Click here to make a donation 

Tickets now available for Gaza love story Tales of a City by the Sea’s Melbourne Sydney and Adelaide performances

“…this gripping play is an act of resistance that implores its audience to take heed.”  Rebecca Harkins-Cross, The Age

“This is a fantastically told story of two worlds colliding.” Mary Hughes, The Music

“In the season that we did last year, I don’t think there was an empty seat in the house. We were inundated here with people saying how important the work was, how moved they were by it.”  Liz Jones, Artistic Director and CEO of La Mama Theatre.

 

Melbourne:  The show will be staged at the La Mama Courthouse theatre between May 11 – May 29th.   La Mama Theatre is nationally and internationally acknowledged as a crucible for cutting edge, contemporary theatre since 1967.  The Courthouse is located on 349 Drummond St, Carlton. Please note all Melbourne shows have now sold out.

Adelaide:  The show will be staged at The Bakehouse Theatre June 8th to June 18th – June 18th.  The Bakehouse is a charming, intimate live theatre at 255 Angas Street, near the east end (Hutt Street).  Click here to purchase tickets for Adelaide shows. 

Sydney:  The show will run at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula.  There will only be two performances scheduled for August 3rd.   Click here to purchase tickets for Sydney shows.

حكايات غزة تقرر على الطلبة الاسترال في ولاية فيكتوريا

سماح السبعاوي تتحدث عن كيف تم إختيار مسرحية حكايات مدينة على البحر لمنهج الدراما و المسرح في فيكتوريا

DONATE لدعم العمل

مسرحيه حكايات مدينة على البحر لم يتم دعمها من أي جهة حكومية أو سياسيه و تعتمد كلياً على تبرعات الأفراد. يتم تخصيص كافة التبرعات لدفع نفقات العمل الفني والفنانين المشاركين فيه. الفريق المسرحي مكون من 16 فرداً وسيقومون بالبروفات لمدة 6 اسابيع تحضيراً ل 33 عرضاً في ثلاثة مدن. وسيتم عرض المسرحية لما يزيد على 500 طالب من 25 مدرسة ثانوية في ولاية فيكتوريا.

DONATE  لدعم العمل

Play set in besieged Gaza needs your support to bring to Australian theatres

TALES OF A CITY BY THE SEA is a love story set in the besieged Gaza strip. Following a sold-out premiere season in Melbourne in 2014, we want to remount the play and take it to audiences around Australia. For this we need your support.  By making a donation through the Australian Cultural Fund, your money will go toward paying the artists’ fees and travel costs for the cast and crew to perform this play in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.   All donations over $2.00 by Australian citizens are tax deductible.

Tales of a City by the Sea is the story of two people who meet and fall in love in the besieged Gaza strip, woven together from the actual experiences of people living under occupation.

Jomana, a Palestinian woman living in a Gaza refugee camp, falls in love with Rami, an American-born Palestinian doctor and activist who has just arrived on one of the first Free Gaza boats in 2008. Their love is met with relentless string of challenges. Ultimately, Rami must decide between returning to his comfortable life in Texas and staying in Palestine with Jomana. Choosing to stay means leaving his family and career behind for a life ravaged by war, while leaving means not only losing Jomana but also ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.

The play premiered in November 2014, with simultaneous productions at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne and the AlRowwad Cultural and Theatre Society, in Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine. La Mama saw a sold out season and both productions received passionate responses from audiences and critics alike. Hundreds posted on social media, encouraging their friends to see it and asking for remounts in other places.

Starting in May 2016, we want to take Tales of a City by the Sea on tour!

Beginning with a three-week season at La Mama in Melbourne (where the production has been selected for the Victorian Drama Studies syllabus!), Tales of a City by the Sea will go on to play at the Bakehouse Theatre in Adelaide and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in NSW. We have three great venues and huge community support in each city.

But we need your help!

Tales of a City by the Sea is about what it means to leave home to create a life in more tolerable conditions, and what it means to stay. It is about relationships between parents who have chosen to leave, and children who want to return. It is about how people in diaspora see their connection to home, and how people at home see them. It is a Palestinian story, but more broadly it is a migrant story that speaks to the experiences of many of us in this country.

Our production features a cast and crew with roots in Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Poland, Malta, Italy, Egypt, and Chile. Supporting this production means helping to the diversity of Australia represented on the Australian stage.

We believe that sharing Palestinian stories is a key step towards a just and peaceful resolution, and that a view into the realities of life under occupation has the power to change hearts and minds.

“This gripping play is an act of resistance that implores its audience to take heed.”
— The Age

Click here to make a donation.

Photo Gallery: Tales of a City by the Sea 2014 Melbourne Premiere

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Congratulations! Play set in Gaza selected for 2016 VCE Drama List

Congratulations to all of us!   Palestinian play highlighting challenges of life in Gaza during the war of 2008-2009 has been selected for the 2016 Victorian Certificate of Education Drama list.   The play Tales of a City by the Sea by Palestinian Australian playwright Samah Sabawi was one of 16 of more than 50 submissions selected for the 3 VCE Playlists.   As a result, it will be seen and studied by hundreds of year 11 & 12 Theatre students in Victoria and it will be published by Currency Press and disseminated among these students.

This is groundbreaking to say the least!  But to be able to produce the play next year so students can watch it, we need your help. So please come and join us on November 22nd and celebrate with us this wonderful news and help us raise funds for next year’s production and for our national tour so we can present this important piece of work not only in Melbourne but in other Australian cities.

The fundraiser will be held on November 22 at 6:00pm on the rooftop of Arcadia Hotel , 2 Toorak Road, South Yarra.

Tickets are  $45.00

For more information or to  buy tickets please follow this link  

Staging Palestinian love story in six Australian cities: Launching Tales of a City by the Sea 2016 national tour fundraising drive

Woven together from the actual experiences of people living under occupation, Tales of a City by the Sea is a journey into the lives of ordinary people in the besieged Gaza Strip.  Jomana, a Palestinian woman living in a Gaza refugee camp, falls in love with Rami, an  American-born Palestinian doctor and activist who has just arrived on one of the first Free Gaza boats in 2008. Their love is met with a relentless string of challenges. Ultimately, Rami must decide between returning to his comfortable life in Texas and staying in Palestine with Jomana. Choosing to stay means leaving his family and career behind for a life ravaged by war, while leaving means not only losing Jomana but also ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.

“[A] nuanced exploration of the myriad ways the occupation affects Palestinians at home and abroad…This gripping play is an act of resistance that implores its audience to take heed.”  ★★★  Rebecca Harkins-Cross,   The Age

Tales of a City by the Sea is about what it means to leave home to create a life in more tolerable conditions, and what it means to stay. It is about relationships between parents who have chosen to leave, and children who want to return. It is about how people in diaspora see their connection to home, and how people at home see them. It is a Palestinian story, but more broadly it is a migrant story.

“A fantastically told story of two worlds colliding. An elegantly simple set […] is perfect for actors Nicole Chamoun and Osamah Sami to excel in their lead roles.”  ★★★★  Harry Hughes,  The Music

The play premiered in November 2014, with simultaneous productions at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne and the AlRowward Cultural and Theatre Society, in Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine. Both productions received overwhelmingly passionate responses from audiences and critics alike.

“The beautiful and passionate voice of Tayah makes the story even more touching…[This play] wondrously gives  hope and prevents you from giving up on Gaza.”  ★★★★  Zeynep Incir, Melbourne Arts Fashion

In 2016, we hope to remount our Australian production at the La Mama theatre in Melbourne and then take it on tour to Adelaide, Sydney, Hobart, Casula and Byron Bay.

Why Support This

Tales of the City by the Sea tells the story of people in terrible situations, living under occupation but it doesn’t define them by their suffering  This is not the kind of story set in Palestine that you hear in the typical every day news reports — we hope to challenge this by telling a story that is not just about the conflict but the experiences of the people who live in and around it.

We believe that sharing Palestinian stories represents a key step towards peaceful and just resolution to the conflict and that a view into the realities of life under occupation has the power to change hearts and minds and that is why we feel it is important that this story is told.

Tales of the City by the Sea will feature a diverse cast and crew and help realize our hopes to see the diversity of Australia represented on the Australian stage. Our cast and creative team include both recently arrived migrants and multigenerational Australians. We have roots in Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Poland, Malta, Italy, Egypt, and Chile.

Funding is the greatest challenge faced by this project, which is why we are asking for your support.

The premiere last year was a co-share, this time, we want to be able to properly remunerate actors and artists involved in bringing this story to the stage. Your contributions go towards supporting a production that deeply values and wants to support its artists.

How the funds will be used

We already have lots of wonderful in kind support such as accommodation but we are committed to paying our artists proper wages.  We will also need to cover production costs for set and costume design,  transport for equipment and cost of travel for the cast and crew.

Raising this money will allow us to commit to the first leg of the Australian tour which means remounting in Melbourne with our artists on full wages regardless of money raised through tickets. That means any revenue raised through tickets will go on to support next leg of tour.

Upcoming Event:

So, let’s kick off our fundraising drive with this exciting event.  Please join us on the rooftop of the Arcadia Hotel and help bring Tales of a City by the Sea to six Australian cities in 2016. Enjoy a BBQ, experience live Arabic music, watch some amazing performances, meet the cast and crew, and dance the night away!

Get your tickets here 

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The Music Review: Tales of a City by the Sea is ‘a fantastically told story’

By Mary Hughes

4-star-review

At the centre of this devastating love story is the Israel-Palestine conflict and the affect it has on daily life. Palestinian-Canadian-Australian playwright Samah Sabawi has set the work in an inhospitable land where bombs are ceaselessly dropped on the houses of innocent people, making it a nearly-impossible place for young love to flourish. Rami, a brave but foolish American-born Palestinian doctor arrives illegally in a refugee camp on a Free Gaza boat and falls in love with Jomana, a Palestinian woman. She sees through his cocky façade to his kind heart, but will only commit to spending her life with him if he agrees to stay in Palestine. Though obviously tempted, Rami, raised comfortably in Texas, is unsure if he can see himself raising a family in the same world where he sees children injured by bombs in hospital every day. This is a fantastically told story of two worlds colliding. Choosing to stay would mean leaving his family and career behind, while leaving would mean not only losing Jomana but also ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. An elegantly simple set designed by Lara Week is perfect for actors Nicole Chamoun and Osamah Sami to excel in their lead roles.

Original review is published here 

The Same Sea: Review

The Blog:  The Australian Jewish Democratic Society

By Ann Fink

Tales of a City by the Sea was a stunning theatrical experience. It is a many layered love story, set in the Gaza Strip. It is a unique play, written by Samah Sabawi, a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian writer, poet, playwright and political commentator; a wordsmith of great talent. It is a poetic and musical journey into the lives of ordinary people in the besieged Gaza strip prior to, during and after its bombardment in the winter of 2008-9.

Tales of a City by the Sea tells the story of Jumana, (Nicole Chamoun) a Palestinian woman, a journalist who lives in the Shati’ (beach) refugee camp in Gaza and Rami, an American born Palestinian doctor and activist who arrives on the first ‘Free Gaza’ boats in 2008. It is a story of impossible love, crossing cultural as well as national boundaries, intertwined with the parallel tale of Jumana’s cousin, Lama. (Emily Coupe)

Lama is the reluctant fiancé of an entrepreneurial local Gazan, (Reece Vella) a tunnel smuggler, a fixer, a man bereft of family, besotted with Lama, who, in turn longs for the “great romantic love” and constantly postpones any final commitment. Together Jumana and Lama look longingly out to sea, discussing the endless possibilities that lie beyond the horizon.
And then come the boats. Boats to break the blockade. And on one of those boats, in the finest romantic tradition, comes Rami, a wealthy Bostonian doctor, born in the USA to a family of Palestinian origins and a mother (Wahibe Moussa) with important connections. Wahibe Moussa is a star. As Rami’s mother, she is a force of nature. But even she cannot breach the blockade that isolates Gaza from the outside world.

Osemah Sami as Rami is suitably handsome, blissfully blind to the mores of traditional and Hamas enforced Muslim Gaza. And he wears socks with his sandals. Oi vey! Osemah Sami is simply superb as Rami.

Jumana is the adored and adoring daughter, of a not so simple fisherman (Majid Shokor) and his wife, (Cara Whitehouse) a woman who alone could terrify the IDF (according to her husband). Other children have married and live outside Gaza on the West Bank. Relationships with grandchildren can only be conducted by Skype. Cara Whitehouse and Majid Shokor play Jumana’s parents to great effect, bringing alive the pain of exile and separation from extended family, especially grandchildren
Jumana’s laptop plays a very significant and at moments, erotic role in this tragic romance.

And then there is the voice and the music. Hauntingly beautiful, exquisitely sung, the music and the poetry add another level to the writing and serve to deepen the impact of this powerful story of imprisonment, separation and finally bombardment. Assel Tayah has the voice of an angel. I have never heard any music like this. Not quite the Arab music one hears on Israeli radio. Definitely Middle Eastern in origin, but different. The program notes that the sound design is by Khaled Sabsabi and the sound mix is by Max Scholler –Root.

As this lovingly wrought, gentle tale continues, with the sea always in the foreground, the inevitable scenario turns dark. Rami returns to the USA ostensibly to close his clinic and prepare for life in Gaza. In reality, he dreams of freeing Jumana from her prison, to deliver her to a life of luxury and liberty in the USA. She has sworn never to leave her family or her country.
On December 27th 2008, Operation Caste Lead begins and the bombardment destroys Jumana’s home, kills all of Lama’s large family and brings back Rami, smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels. He works day and night as a doctor to save lives and comes at last to grips with the Gazan reality.

One month later, in the shadow of the ruins of her dreams, Lama agrees to marry her long suffering and patient fiancé. “He”, she explains to a skeptical Jumana, who is still in the throes of romantic love, “will always be a good provider. We will always have plenty to eat and he will give me a good life. Together we will build a new family.” They marry and within the year, Lama is pregnant.

Commentators often remark on the large numbers of children, educated women bear in Gaza. Samah Sabawi demonstrates exactly why this is so. As long as families are destroyed, there will always be a natural urge to rebuild them. Similar sentiments were expressed by many Holocaust survivors.

Meanwhile Rami tries to persuade Jumana that there is no future for them or their children in such a place. But she still refuses to leave. Love conquers all and again he returns to the USA to close his practice and prepare finally for a life in Gaza. On entering the US, he is arrested, charged with being a Hamas terrorist and we are left with Jumana, once again gazing out to the sea and the horizon beyond, imprisoned, but infinitely patient.

Tales from a City by the Sea is a universal story of love which crosses boundaries and checkpoints, cultures and nationalities; of grandmothers and grandfathers who will never be able to know their grandchildren, whose own children will become distant and alien. The tyranny of distance, which figures so large in the Australian experience, cannot be compared to the cruelty of the blockade of Gaza, which began in June 2007 and continues to this day, but it resonates with those who feel forever separated from their kin.

The performance, which I saw on the 23rd of November, the final afternoon of its far too short, sell out, season, at La Mama Theatre, in Melbourne, Australia, took place literally at the opposite end of the world from Gaza, a 36 hour direct flight distant. The production was an overwhelming achievement. All the components of good theatre, acting, casting, set design, dress and music all came together under the superb direction of Lech Machiewicz.

Having just flown in from Tel Aviv, the authenticity of the characters played by the actors was breathtaking. I could have sworn that Lama was the check out girl at our local supermarket and that Jumana was sitting at the table next to us at a wedding we attended in Jericho.

Nicole Chamoun, Jumana, is probably one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. Her acting ability matches her looks and she is already well on the way to a great career.

Emily Coupe as Lama, the chatterbox cousin, with her sexy tight jeans and hijab could be any Palestinian teenager shopping in Ramallah or on the streets of Jaffa, texting as she walks and gossips with her friends.

Lama’s fiancé, Reece Vella is uncanny in his portrayal of the non stop cigarette smoking fixer, tunnel smuggler, entrepreneur. Ubaldino Mantelli completes this multi ethnic cast, a testament to the rich diversity of Melbourne’s immigrant heritage.

The set is simple and effective. Sheets hung on receding lines to be drawn as needed. Domestic images of washing hung to dry on balconies and rooftops of apartment buildings lining the sea shore The same sea whose waves crash on the shores of Tartus in Syria, on Beirut in Lebanon, on ‘our’ beach, the Tzuk Beach in North Tel Aviv, Israel, and onto Jumana’s beach in Gaza. It is the same sea.

Post Script.
On November 22nd 2014, The Alrowwad Cultural and Theater Society performed a production of Tales of a City by the Sea in Bethlehem, Palestine. The production was directed by Dr.Abdelfattah Abusrour. Dr Abdelfattah Abusrour stressed the importance of this production, citing the lack of theatrical works that explore the Gaza case and Diaspora Palestinians. The play, he writes, demonstrates the role of theatre in supporting the Palestinian cultural values of beautiful resistance against the violence of occupation and its ugliness.

Original article appeared here http://www.ajds.org.au/justvoices4_fink/#sthash.I5RvUOeN.9YPrGDjd.dpuf

Theatre review: Tales of a City by the Sea captures drama of star-crossed lovers amid Gaza conflict

Reviewed by Rebecca Harkins-Cross

The Sydney Morning Herald

THEATRE
TALES OF A CITY BY THE SEA ★★★Samah Sabawi
La Mama Courthouse, until November 23

Star-crossed lovers Jomana (Nicole Chamoun) and Rami (Osamah Sami) face a hopeless impasse. The Palestinian cause brings together the Gazan journalist and the American-born Palestinian doctor, but is also what threatens to keep them apart.

Like recent Palestinian film Omar (2013), many artists are exploring the current state of the conflict through the frame of divided young love. This is a generation who’ve grown up under various states of occupation, with internet access allowing them to interact with the world beyond their borders.

Some of playwright Samah Sabawi’s poetry is heavy-handed, but there are raw emotions propelling the drama. Director Lech Mackiewicz extracts moving performances from a large cast, with singer Aseel Tayah’s wistful dirge echoing throughout.

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Sabawi’s nuanced exploration of the myriad ways the occupation affects Palestinians at home and abroad could only be drawn from first-hand experiences. Those who’ve managed to escape find themselves suspended between two worlds, while for those who stay their roots are one of the only things they have left.

Set during the 2008 Gaza war, the play speaks to this year’s hostilities just as strongly. Sabawi’s focus extends beyond the political to people battling for normalcy – and managing to find humour – when the future is so uncertain. Funerals and marriages become a part of daily life.

Jomana finds solace from documenting the bloodshed.

“One more dead baby and the world will rise,” she prays.

Despite its flaws, this gripping play is an act of resistance that implores its audience to take heed.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/theatre-review-tales-of-a-city-by-the-sea-captures-drama-of-starcrossed-lovers-amid-gaza-conflict-20141113-11lmx3.html#ixzz3L5vK5tXa

City By The Sea – a poem by Stuart Rees inspired by the play Tales of a City by the Sea

I was compelled by Samah’s Tales of a City by the Sea – so beautifully acted, so stunningly presented – to scribble this poem as tribute and reminder of a piercing piece of history placed on stage. The tenacity and courage of the people of Gaza stands in total contrast to the cruelties meted out by successive Israeli governments. Samah reminds us: the sea is the people’s salve, their loving a means of survival and a reminder to all who will ponder these ‘Tales’ to demand justice for all Palestinians.

City By The Sea

Transfusion beyond bombings

-whose noise as bombers dive,

to fulfil their bloody missions –

helps lovers stay alive,

tied up in their dilemmas

to flee, or risk and stay,

to kiss through every moment,

their adrenalin to say,

‘The ocean always tells us

of the salve that comes from thee,

tho’ waves may mutter only

the hope they give to me.

Life can remind of kindness

not death’s brutality,

lives may be lost in buildings,

yet generosity

still comes from endless motion,

-the sight, the sound, the sea –

which nurtures every struggle,

and is…..

life’s only certainty.’

Stuart Rees is Emeritus Professor, Australian academic and author. He is Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Tales Of The City By The Sea – Theatre Review Melbourne. Arts. Fashion

Monday, November 17, 2014 – 10:49
ZEYNEP INCIR

What: Tales of the City by the Sea
When: November 12 –23
Where: La Mama Courthouse
Written by Samah Sabawi

Directed by Lech Mackiewicz
Assistant Director: Izabella Mackiewicz
Performed by Nicole Chamon, Osamah Sami, Emily Coupe, Majid Shokor, Wahibe Moussa, Reece Vella, Aseel Tayeh, Ubaldino Mantelli and Cara Whitehouse
Set design by Lara Week
Lighting design by Shane Grant
Sound design by Khaled Sabsabi

When I hear the phrase ‘the city by the sea’ I think of a place of peacefulness, natural beauty and a place to fall in love. Tales of the City by the Sea tells a story from Gaza. Gaza is a city by the sea but does not associate with the thoughts I have written above. It associates with constant deadly attacks on humans by other humans, suffering, death, shame and incapability of the world to end the violence. Have you ever searched images of Gaza on the web? They have been suffering so much for so long that one is inclined to give up hope.

Tales of the City by the Sea tells us the story of people living in Gaza who keep dreaming, loving, giving birth to new lives, and hoping. It is a love story between a Palestinian poet and journalist Jomana (Nicole Chamon) and a doctor Rami (Osamah Sami) a Palestinian who was born and lives in America. The story begins rather calmly but then the siege over the city takes the lovers apart and then the bombing starts and tears everything apart. There is also a beautiful side story about another Palestinian couple who are engaged.

The most remarkable thing about the story for me was that it profoundly managed to portray how the perception of time can be different under diverse conditions. It reminded me how we let the time pass while we keep waiting for things to happen, and that the idea of having time to wait is a luxurious illusion.

The set design was composed of curtains hanging down from three rows of ropes. It was highly adjustable and cleverly set the scene for different places and moods. It managed to make me feel both the sense of freshness coming from the sea, and the sense of captivity coming from the siege at the city. It also carried the play a little bit away from the realistic conventions. The acting and the directing styles remained faithful to the conventions of realism which was a down side for my taste. I enjoy witnessing the precariousness of the stage, rather than the rationality of the ‘real’. The acting was generally pretty good but had its moments of inconsistency.

Touching songs sung by the beautiful and passionate voice of Tayah made the story even more touching. I could hear sniffing noises coming from all around the theatre after the second half of the play. In my defence, I was sniffing because of my allergies…
Tales of the City by the Sea was a touching play portraying many horrible things happening on this world. Nevertheless, the play wondrously achieves to give hope and prevents you from giving up on Gaza.

4 stars

http://www.melbartsfash.com/101110

Audio: In conversation with Tales of a City by the Sea director Lech Mackiewicz and actress Wahibe Moussa

A fantastic interview with Lech Mackiewicz and Wahibe Moussa about why they chose to be involved with the play Tales of a City by the Sea and what they hope this play will accomplish.  It offers a wonderful insight into the role of theatre in building cultural bridges and telling the stories that need to be told.

With thanks to Jan Bartlett and 3CR radio.

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Jon Faine interviews Samah Sabawi about her upcoming play Tales of a City by the Sea

Jon Faine’s conversation hour with playwright Samah Sabawi, actor Miriam Margolyes and novelist Ceridwen Dovey

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The dream and the reality of staging Palestine

Excerpt from interview:

“The recent total devastation of Gaza made putting on this play all the more important for us in the West Bank and in Melbourne. What happened in Gaza a couple of months ago is something that is far worst than ever before.   It was an attempt at the destruction of life in a way that Palestinians haven’t experienced since 1948, since the original ethnic cleansing of Palestine began….We were casting just toward the end of that and it was surreal and sad and for me it was heartbreaking because I really wanted to bring this brand of art to Gaza…it was my love letter to Gaza in a way…I went there two years ago and we staged a reading and I vowed that the play will premier in Gaza before anywhere else but I can see that this dream will have to be put on hold for now…”

Click on video below to hear the full interview.

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مسرحية حكايات مدينة على البحر SBS Arabic Radio with Tales of a City by the Sea

مسرحية حكايات مدينة على البحر تبدأ في ملبورن في الثاني عشر من تشرين الثاني نوفمبر. المسرحية عبارة عن قصة حب وانفصال وستعرض على خشبة مسرحين في اليوم ذاته. على خشبة مسرح لاماما في ملبورن، ومسرح الرواد في مخيم عايدة في الضفة الغربية.

كاتبة المسرحية هي الكاتبة والشاعرة سماح السبعاوي، وقد استضفناها في استديوهات الأس بي سي مع اثنين من فريق العمل. استمعوا هنا إلى سماح السبعاوي، والممثلة نيكول شمعون والممثل أسامة سامي.

The Age: Palestinian Play Tales of a city by the Sea thwarted by real-life violence

By Annabel Ross

There is some bitter irony in the fact that the plan to premiere a Palestinian play in three different cities was thwarted by the very war it speaks of. Palestinian-Australian writer Samah Sabawi wanted Tales of the City and the Sea to debut in Australia and the Palestinian territories simultaneously. “The plan was that it would open in the West Bank, Gaza and Melbourne at the same time and in a way connect the Palestinians in the West Bank to the Palestinians in Gaza,” she says. “Unfortunately, the time we started casting and putting together the production team was when Gaza was under heavy bombardment.” That was in July, at the height of the recent conflict. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/palestinian-play-tales-of-the-city-and-the-sea-thwarted-by-reallife-violence-20141028-11cjn0.html#ixzz3HPpWg1ia

Short video: La Mama Artistic Director Liz Jones on staging Palestinian theatre in Australia

Tales of a City by the Sea, a Palestinian story of love, separation and beautiful resistance will be staged in Melbourne November 12 – November 23 at La Mama.  Here is why:

TIMES:

NOVEMBER 12 – NOVEMBER 23
Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday 7.30pm
Friday 7.30pm
Saturday 7.30pm
Sunday 4pm

Venue:

La Mama Courthouse
349 Drummond Street Carlton
03 9347 6948

TICKETS

Full $25
Concession $15
Phone bookings: 03 9347 6142

BUY TICKETS

Tickets can be booked up until 4pm on the day of the performance, otherwise try your luck at the door.

Please allow plenty of time to arrive at our venues, as we have a no latecomers policy.

Introducing our Melbourne Production Cast and Crew

The Creatives

Playwright and producer Samah Sabawi

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Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian writer and commentator.  She has travelled the world and lived in its far corners, yet always felt as though she was still trapped in her place of birth Gaza.  The war torn besieged and isolated strip has shaped her understanding of her identity and her humanity.  So what else could Sabawi do but to indulge in Gaza’s overwhelming presence and to succumb to tell the stories.

Samah Sabawi is co-author of the book Journey to Peace in Palestine and writer and producer of the plays Cries from the Land and Three Wishes, both were successfully staged in Canada in 2003 and 2008. Sabawi’s writings have appeared in various media outlets including AlJazeera English, AlAhram, The Globe and Mail, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and many others. Her poetry has been featured in various magazines and books, most recently in an anthology published by West End Press titled With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century. Samah Sabawi is currently co-editing an anthology of plays for the Playwrights Canada Press, Canada’s major publisher and distributor of Canadian drama. Her recent play Tales of a City by the Sea will be published as part of the anthology in early 2016.

Co-producer and actor Majid Shokor

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Majid has been acting for over 25 years. He also directed whilst teaching drama in Lebanon for four years and has written his own works. He has won many awards in his home country of Iraq and has been a member of the Iraqi National Theatre Company and a long-time member of the Iraqi Theatre Artists Syndicate.

Since arriving in Australia in September 2001, Majid has appeared in many plays in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide including, Kan Yama Kan directed by Robin Laurie. Getting in directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon, Subclass26A  directed by Bagryana Popov at 45 Downstaires for which he got Green Room Best Actor Award nomination 2005, Carrying Shoes Into The Unknown at LaMam, Homebody /Kabul by Tony Kushner directed by Chris Bendal , Theatre@ risk company and  The Cove season, 8 short plays by Daniel Keen and directed by Matt Scholton presented at the Dog Theatre, for which he got another Green Room Best Actor Award nomination 2009.

Majid was also seen at Belvoir St Theatre in The Cool Room which was presented by Performing Lines and In Our Name, a play Written and directed by Nigel Jamieson and was presented by company B.  His screen credits include a guest role in City Homicide and an actor and cultural consultant in the feature film Lucky Miles.

Majid holds a Master degree in Community Cultural Development with honor degree from VCA / Melbourne University.

Director Lech Mackiewicz

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Lech directed theatre in Poland, Korea, Japan and Australia, so his understanding of cross-cultural undertaking is based on first hand experience. In Japan Lech worked with the Japanese actors and creatives for Suzuki Company Of Toga and for ACM Mito. His work was seen at a number of international theatre festivals in Japan: Nagoya, Tokyo, Toga. Last year Lech worked on a bilingual co-production of Cho Cho by Daniel Keene for the National China Theatre and Melbourne Arts Centre. In Australia Lech co-founded Auto Da Fe Theatre Company with 2 NIDA graduates Justin Monjo and Jaime Robertson in 1987. In the 1990ies Lech received 3 individual grants from the Australia Council for Arts. He is also the 1991 winner of a New South Wales Performing Arts Scholarship.

Graduate of the National State Academy of Theatre in Cracow (Poland) in 1983, and from UTS Sydney in 1987. Directing secondment with the Moscow Arts Theatre 1991.  His directing credits include: KING LEAR for Playbox ( Melbourne) touring nationally and to Japan and Korea, THE HOUR BEFORE MY BROTHER DIES for Jaracza Theatre (Poland), KRAPP’S LAST TAPE for Auto Da Fe Theatre Co. (Poland, Australia, Japan) FELLINIADA (Belvoir. St. Theatre). SO CALLED K. for Mito Acting Company ( Japan), BECKETT IN CIRCLES for Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT; Japan), AN OAK TREE for Teatr Wegierki (Poland), NaGL for Teatr Auto Da Fe ( Sydney) DITTO.A STORY ( La Mama Melbourne), KAFKA TANCZY for Teatr Zydowski (Warsaw) and most recently EVERYMAN & THE POLE DANCERS at Metanoia Theatre (Melbourne).

Given his experience as an actor and director who has lived and worked in Europe, Japan and Australia, Lech’s theatre-writing displays the space required for collaborative expression and the ambiguity to allow diverse cultural readings. “What marks this work as arresting and worth attending is the cultural prism that the writer and director, Lech Mackiewicz, “a Polish artist immigrant”, brings to this exercise of his view of living in Australia in 2010. At least I found it so – a provocative experience to take on board on several different levels: Content and style at least two of those levels, consciously (in time the subconscious, perhaps). Kevin Jackson’s Theatre Diary. On NaGL

Assistant Director Izabella Mackiewicz

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Izabella studied acting and theatre at the National Academy Of Theatre in Cracow (Poland) and UNSW in Sydney (Australia).

She collaborated with Lech Mackiewicz on a number of projects. Her most recent theatre credits include: NaGL (Auto Da Fe Theatre ;Sydney), Milobojcy (Teatr Nowy Zabrze; Poland), Ditto (La Mama; Melbourne), The Author ( Teatr Siemaszkowej Rzeszow; Poland), Skierniewicer ( Poland). She also appeared in some feature films and translated plays for theatre from English to Polish.

The Cast

Nicole Chamoun

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Nicole is thrilled to be making her theatre debut here at La Mama in this beautiful production.  Since starring as ‘Layla’, in the SBS series ‘kick’ (2007), Nicole has gone on to appear in many television series such as ‘city homicide’ & feature films Including ’10 terrorists’ (2012) & ‘Last Dance’ (2013). Stay tuned to see Nicole in an upcoming feature film, titled ‘Be Less Beautiful’, starring alongside the talented Osamah Sami. Nicole is currently studying at The Melbourne Actors Lab under the guidance of Peter Kalos.

Osamah Sami

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Osamah is a failed cricketer, struggling actor–writer–director and floundering comedian. Born in war-torn Iran to half-Kurdish, half-Iraqi parents and escaping to call Australia home have moulded him into a confused soul. It is a miracle he’s still entrusted to perform on stage. Credits include Sinners, Long Day’s Dying, Blackbox 149, Two Executioners (La Mamma); Baghdad Wedding (Belvoir St.); The Container; Homebody/Kabul (Big West) and Saddam the Musical, which saw him deported from the U.S. (his name, ‘Osama’ and barracking for the ‘Bombers’ were contributing factors).

He played lead roles in films Saved (opposite Claudia Karvan) and 10 Terrorists! TV shows include Kick, City Homicide, East West 101, Sea Patrol & Rush. Contrary to popular belief, he has played a terrorist only twice. Osamah also created an 8-episode sitcom for SBS (Baghdad to the Burbs) and has written a vague number of plays and short films. His memoir ‘Good Muslim Boy’, published by Hardie Grants, will be released in May 2015. He is currently working on two feature films and being a better father.

Emily Coupe

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Emily was born and raised in Melbourne and has been passionate about acting and singing from a young age. Her first theatre experience was in primary school – performing in both the schools improvisational group and choir ensemble – which sparked her passion for the arts. Since then she has continued her training at Musical Theatre school Showfit, Melbourne Actors Lab and The Rehearsal Room, and has appeared in various T.V shows such as Offspring, web-series, short-films, adverts and feature films around Melbourne. She is also recording an album of original music with producer Lee Bradshaw, which she is excited to release later this year. Emily is thrilled to be joining the cast of The Tales Of A City By The Sea this season, and looks forward to sharing this story with you all.

Wahibe Moussa

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Wahibe is a performance-maker, writer and Green-Room award winning actor. She has gained respect as a Cultural/Language Consultant in theatre and television.  She creates short fiction, poetry and performance where the personal is political, exploring the exchange of power within human relationships. Wahibe’s practice is informed by her own experiences as a migrant child, her collaborations with Refugee Artists and a commitment to understanding Indigenous performance and story making practices. Her solo performances and writing speaks to contemporary social experience, utilising spoken word and movement with audio-visual and sculptural elements: TIME PIECE (Immigration Museum 2002) TOUCH(DON’T)TOUCH (2000), SOME KIND OF LOVE (2010), BREATH OF GOD (2012).

As an actor Wahibe has been seen on television and in independent theatre productions. In 2007, Wahibe received the Green Room Award for Female Actor in an Independent Production, for her role as Mahala in Theatre @ Risk’s 2007 production of Tony Kushner‘s Homebody/Kabul.

As a Community Artist, Wahibe worked collaboratively in Community Theatre, Visual Art and Writing Projects in Melbourne and Sydney. Projects include THE TORCH (on its Shepparton tour in 2001), which led to drama and leadership workshops for young Australian Muslim women In Shepparton and Melbourne. Wahibe toured Australian Capitals with Medicen Sans Frontiere as a Storyteller, retelling the stories of six Refugees from Africa, Chechnya, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. BETWEEN MEMORY AND HOPE: TEARS FOR THE FUTURE, The Iraqi Women’s Quilt and Story Project (2003-2005) where women shared their experiences under Saddam Hussein and then at the hands of the Australian Government, in textile art creating panels for 5 Quilts and a companion book. These quilts have been constantly touring Australian cities and towns ever since.

In 2009 Wahibe founded “Writer’s Nest“, for writers interested in exploring new territories and expanding known ground. She completed her Master of Writing for Performance 2012. In 2013 she received a Hot Desk Fellowship From the Wheeler Centre spending ten weeks writing and researching a new performance piece, In The Garden. Currently she is one of ten Dramaturgy Interns, a Playwriting Australia Fellowship initiative with MTC. Wahibe continues her online collaboratIon with German sound artist, Somer Abbas Yacoub.

Aseel Tayah

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Aseel is a vocalist and installation artists. She considers herself a non-traditional Arab Muslim girl. Born in Jerusalem she was raised a proud Palestinian by her parents in Qalanswa, Palestine. Torn between sustaining her identity and being forced to assimilate by a suppressive Israeli occupation of Palestine Aseel was forced to live the Palestinian Israeli conflict in her daily life. The result was that Aseel grew stronger, wanting to drive the changes she seeks to see in the world. Aseel seeks education through Art. She graduateed from the collage of arts with honour. Her art focuses on women rights, society & national identity.

Reece Vella

Reece Vella

Reece Graduated from The Actors College of Theatre and TV in Sydney in 2010, Reece Vella has been acting professionally for the past four years, gaining experience while working with the likes of Lech Machiewicz, Lex Marinos and Mario Philip Azzopardi. With a passion for new work his latest endeavors have been the world premier of “Il- Kappillan ta’ Malta” in July 2014 performed in Malta in Maltese, based on the English best selling novel by Nicholas Monsarrat and most recently performing in “Everyman and the Pole Dancers” in October 2014 at Metanoia Theatre under the Auto Da Fe company. Reece is delighted to be performing for the second time at La Mama since he holds this place close to his heart for its unquantifiable artistic and historical Australian value.

Ubaldino Mantelli

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Ubaldino is a relative newcomer to acting and performing. Since 2009, he has played major roles in community theatre in the Geelong region (Oscar Wilde in Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, ‘Mario’ in Miller’s A View From The Bridge, ‘Cripple Billy’ in McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, ‘The Actor’ in Mallatratt’s The Woman In Black, Dr Treves in The Elephant Man, ‘Bill Sykes’ in Oliver!). He has performed in several plays written and directed by Doug Mann for the National Trust and has undergone regular workshops and training, including the VCA’s Acting Studio 12. Ubaldino has been a producer and presenter on community radio and recently performed in Richard Kakol’s Vision Australia radio play, The Infinite Hotel. In 2013, Ubaldino performed in Daylight Savings, an ensemble-devised production led by James Pratt at Courthouse Arts. Ubaldino is the tallest member of his family band, The Mantelli Five.

Cara Whitehouse

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Cara is an actor, singer and voice teacher. Following graduation of her BA (Hons) Acting at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore she worked in children’s puppetry theatre and at the Singapore Arts Festival. Cara is a certified Fitzmaurice Voicework™ teacher and continues training in Knight-Thompson Speechwork this December in New York. She also continues her acting training at the Howard Fine Studio. Favourite credits include: Medea, Elektra, Macbeth, Conference of the Birds, Visible Cities, One More Year and The Wonderful World of Dissocia. Cara is excited to be making her La Mama debut in such an important, currently relevant story.

Production Crew

Set Designer Lara Week

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Lara is a Melbourne-based producer and designer for performance. Her background includes co-creating monthly community music event Deja in her home city of Sydney; leading play-building workshops for children with Galli Theatre, Berlin; making costumes for a children’s program in the Israeli Opera; and working with children in a youth club for refugees in Tel Aviv. Since 2011, Lara has been associate producer for Tribal Soul Arts, producing community programs and original performances in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Netherlands, UK, and Australia. In 2013, Lara completed her PG Dip in Performance Creation (Design) at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her design credits include: The Conference of the Birds (Centre for Cultural Partnerships), The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden (VCA School of Drama), A Feat Incomplete (Old 505 Theatre), and Just Looking (VCA School of Dance). She is dedicated to creating spaces where people with different skills and perspectives can share ideas and produce work together.

Lighting Designer Shane Grant

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Shane has been Audio Visual Technician for St Kevins College for the past 8 years. Prior to that he was Production Manager with Strange Fruit for 6 years and Technical Manager at Gasworks Theatre for 4 years. Shane is an accomplished lighting designer having worked extensively with companies like Ranters Theatre, The Torch Project, NYID and many others. Shane has a BA Dramatic Arts (Production) VCA from 1994. Shane is currently a company director of Metanoia Theatre and the technical manager of the mechanics institute theatre in Brunswick.

Sound Designer Khaled Sabsabi

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Khaled works across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging media based experiences. I’m a socially-engaged artist who specialises in multimedia and site-specific installations that often involve people on the margins of society. I have worked in detention centres, schools, prisons, refugee camps, settlements, hospitals and youth centres, in the Australian and broader international context. I’m interested in the individual and what defines humans, our experiences, anxieties and uncertainties. I make work that questions; rationales and complexities of nationhood and identity. I also make work that is in continual transfer from the physical to the philosophical, to interconnect the interrelatedness and cycles of life. www.peacefender.com

Sound Mixer Max Schollar-Root

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Max has his roots in The Australian Theatre for Young People and the NSW Performing Arts Unit State Drama Ensemble, Max found his passion in musical performance and composition while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has since played in many ensembles, currently works as a bandleader, tours nationally, and has produced six full-length albums. Recently he has been completing training to become a Registered Music Therapist at the University of Melbourne. Max is increasingly involved in multi-modal performance projects combining live music, technology, and dance, and is presenting this work with his group, Ungus Ungus Ungus, at music and arts festivals across Australia.

Stage Manager James O’Donoghue

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James is a theatre maker and designer in his final year Performing Arts at Monash University. In 2013 James undertook a technical internship at Monash Uni Student Theatre and designed multiple productions including The Threepenny Opera, Psycho Beach Party and a contemporary dance piece In The Fires, We Weep. Further work includes stage management of Boy Out of the Country presented by Larrikin Ensemble Theatre at 45 Downstairs, stage management of Little Dances at La Mama Theatre, Stage Management for Auto De Fa’s Ditto, design of The Bloom’s Ernest, lighting secondment to Emma Valente on The Rabble’s Room of Regret, design of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Monash Shakespeare Compay, assistant design for Attic Erattic’s The City They Burned and assistant design for Passion presented at the Arts Centre this month.

Assistant Stage Manager Nada Mustafa

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Nada is a Palestinian Australian, Having completed her Bachelor in Filmmaking, she went on to volunteer with Channel 31 as a floor manager for their Youth Network…she then progressed to complete an internship with Happening Films as their Production Assistant for their short film Golden Girl. She continued further study in Event Management and Public relations and continued to gain skills voluntarily as a 3rd Assistant Director for short films under Shekat Productions and has also voluntarily assisted in the Melbourne International Film Festival and Tropfest. She has organised small knit events and recently travelled to Palestine where she got to witness firsthand a slither of the daily Palestinian struggle. Upon her arrival back to Australia with her passion for all things creative and Palestine she has joined us as Assistant Stage Manager in her first role in the theatre industry that she can now add to her growing list of skills.

Photographer/videographer Ahmad Sabra

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Ahmad is an Australian Muslim Lebanese multi award winning international photographer. At the age of 5 Ahmad lost his eyesight in a tragic tractor plow accident. In what at first was considered a cruel joke, a stranger gave Ahmad a camera and a roll of film. Thinking it was a gun, Ahmad would squeal and point the camera at anyone that approached. Gradually his eyesight returned and he has continued to use the camera until today but with less squealing and sharper results. ” For Ahmad’s real bio please visit his website at Www.sabraimagery.com.au

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