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.

Buy Tickets for Melbourne Production.

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.

Get your tickets now to Melbourne production of Tales of a City by the Sea – a Palestinian story of love, separation and beautiful resistance

Tales of a City by the Sea

NOVEMBER 12 – NOVEMBER 23

BUY TICKETS

Written by Samah Sabawi

Directed by Lech Mackiewicz
Assistant Director: Izabella Mackiewicz
Performed by Nicole Chamoun, 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
Sound mix by Max Schollar-Root
Stage Manager: James O’Donoghue
Assistant Stage Manager: Nada Mustafa

Website: Aya El-Zinati
Photographer: Ahmad Sabra
Poster design by Ahmad Sabra and Aya El-Zinati


NOVEMBER 12 – NOVEMBER 23
Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday 7.30pm
Friday 7.30pm
Saturday 7.30pm
Sunday 4:00 pm
Full $25
Concession $15
Phone bookings: 03 9347 6142

Tickets can be booked up until 4:00 pm 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.

La Mama Courthouse Theatre
349 Drummond St. Carlton Vic 3053
(03) 9347 6948

An open letter to Senator Seselja (Australian Capital Territory)

You fall into the trap of mentioning women’s rights and gay rights in Israel…let me tell you being gay is not some super power that allows Palestinians to fly over checkpoints and walk through apartheid walls.

Senator, you used your privilege to speak in the Senate on March 18, 2014 to call for the condemnation of what you alleged were anti-Semitic incidents on Australian university campuses. You are absolutely right that Australians should be concerned wherever there is racism and hate and that our society needs to stand firm against all forms of incitement against any people of any colour, religion or ethnicity. This is why I write you this open letter.

It may surprise you that we are in fact in agreement about one thing and that is it is not acceptable to single out and attack members of the Jewish community. I would add it is also not acceptable to single out or attack any Israeli individual. This is why the Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions movement only targets businesses and institutions that are funded by the state of Israel [or that benefit from Israel’s occupation], because we know the importance of separating individuals from policies and we know that at the end we will have to live together Palestinians and Israelis in peace and as equals.

Sir, it is not acceptable for a Senator in Australia to display this level of ignorance of a global movement, and to spread harmful rhetoric and deliberately regurgitate false information about what it is and what it stands for. What you have referred to as thevile and detestable Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement’ is a non-violent legitimate movement that sees Jews and Palestinians as brothers and sisters who can and will one day live at peace together in an environment that is built on equality justice and freedom. Your attempt at linking a couple of minor incidents of disagreement in Australian University campuses is a cheap opportunistic attempt which only serve those who you thank at the end of your speech.

You name in your speech Seacret, L’Oreal and Jericho, as well as Caterpillar, these are companies that profit from Israel’s occupation some of them are present inside Israel’s illegally occupied areas and the Caterpillar bulldozers you mentioned have destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes leaving the families out in the street. You wouldn’t have stood for this if it was your home being demolished, your land being stolen and your livelihood being destroyed, but because it is the Palestinians who suffer and not you, you don’t seem to mind.  I am certain this is exactly the kind of racism we should all be appalled by.

No businesses and institutions should ever be above scrutiny when it comes to their practices, and if they infringe on the human rights of others, they should be boycotted. Boycotting these businesses you named is not as you claim‘harassment and victimization of Jewish people’, in fact boycotts are supported by a growing number of Jewish and Palestinian peace activists who unlike you, would like to see an end to the conflict and a new era for a peace with justice.

Sir, you also fall into the trap of mentioning women’s rights and gay rights in Israel. You ignore the countless women under Israeli occupation who are forced to have their babies at checkpoints, you turn a blind eye to the thousands of children who are arrested, some as young as five, by Israeli soldiers and tried in military courts, you ignore the dearth of human rights abuses committed by Israel every single day, and let me tell you being gay is not some super power that allows Palestinians to fly over checkpoints and walk through apartheid walls. When an entire population is held captive inside bantustans denied basic human rights your words about the state that imprisons them being a bastion of rights are nothing but a white wash of reality.

You criticize Australian politicians who support the BDS movement and you note that you find it ‘interesting that those who actively push for human rights and equality in parts of the left are some of the strongest backers of this movement’ yet you still don’t get it. Doesn’t that tell you something?

Your statement can only be described as hateful incitement against those of us who work hard to end racism and discrimination and who insist that there be full equality between Palestinians and Jews and as such it is exactly what Australians should condemn in the strongest way possible.

Sir, your rhetoric inflames the conflict by protecting Israel’s system of oppression and discrimination and you should know that if history has taught us anything, it is that there was never peace where injustice prevailed.  There will be justice equality and peace in Palestine but it will not be with thanks to politicians like you.

I will leave you with this old quote from President Kennedy “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

Samah Sabawi

 

About Tales of a City by the Sea

The play Tales of a City by the Sea is a unique and poetic journey into the lives of ordinary people in the besieged Gaza strip prior to, during and after its bombardment during the winter of 2008.  Jomana, a Palestinian woman who lives in the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza falls in love with Rami, an American born Palestinian doctor and activist who arrives on the first Free Gaza boats in 2008. Their love is met with many challenges forcing Rami to make incredible decisions the least of which is to take a dangerous journey through the underground tunnels that connect Gaza to Egypt.  Although on the surface this love story appears to explore the relationship between diaspora Palestinians and Palestinians under occupation, there is a broader and more universal theme that emerges – one of human survival and tenacity.  Tales of a City by the Sea avoids political pitfalls, ideological agendas and clichés by focusing on the human story of the people in Gaza. Although the play’s characters are fictional, the script is based on real life events and is a product of a collection of real stories the author Samah Sabawi and her family have experienced during the events of the past several years. Sabawi has written most of the poetry in the play during the three-week bombardment of Gaza in 2008/2009.

The writer Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian published writer, commentator and playwright.  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 of her loved ones back home.  Her most recent play Tales of a City by the Sea is dedicated to them and to all of those who still manage to have faith and hope even as the sky rains death and destruction.

The script is available to interested theatre makers upon request.  Please email play3wishes@gmail.com for more information.

Ms. Sabawi speaking at the Launch of the The People's Charter To Create a Nonviolent World

Photo courtesy http://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com/launch-events/

Follow Samah Sabawi on Twitter @gazaheart

Samah Sabawi’s professional bio can be found here

For more information on Samah Sabawi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samah_Sabawi

Arab Australian photographer Sabra a finalist in the Qantas Spirit of Youth awards

Gazing at a portrait of Gaza

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Stephanie Zevenbergen

March 5, 2013

Hume Weekly 

HIS photographs portray a silent picture of suffering in Palestine, of people stuck in violent conflict.

Telling the stories of refugees in Palestine through photography is close to Ahmad Sabra’s heart.

For the 27-year-old Broadmeadows resident, a recent trip to the Gaza Strip in Palestine proved memorable in more ways than one. Firstly, it was a trip back to his native land; now the photos he took there are receiving accolades in Australia.

Sabra, a photographer, is one of 13 national finalists in the Qantas spirit of youth awards 365 (SOYA), which offer the first-prize winner $5000 for air travel.

Last year, across 11 categories, SOYA drew more than 20,000 entries from more than 2400 young artists, designers, filmmakers, photographers and musicians.

Sabra is also one of 53 finalists for the National Portrait Gallery’s national photographic portrait prize. The winner takes home $25,000.

He says photographing refugees has personal meaning for him as he migrated to Australia from Lebanon in 1997. ‘‘I have a soft spot for them,’’ he says. ‘‘Growing up in Lebanon we used to see all the refugee camps. Going back to Gaza and seeing their living conditions motivated me to do more with Palestine.’’

Sabra’s work includes portraits of Palestinian orphans, young refugees and fishermen.

The photo he entered in the National Portrait Gallery is of a child whose father was killed by Israel.

‘‘The child in the orphanage has got a quirky smile on his face,’’ he says.

‘‘Most of the people in Gaza are refugees. My whole idea was to document living as a refugee.

‘‘Government policies in Australia should be supporting the Palestinian cause. Another reason I take these photos is to raise awareness of what they go through and to possibly help.’’

The national photographic portrait prize-winner will be announced on Thursday and the SOYA winner on March 11.

This article appeared in Hume Weekly

(A correction was made since this article was first posted, Hume Weekly made an error  Sabra is of  Syrian Arab origin, therefore the title of this posting changed from Palestinian Australian to Arab Australian.  Thanks to Sabra for bringing this to my attention)