For immediate release: August 1, 2007

PlayMakers explores Middle East conflict with drama and community dialogue

CHAPEL HILL – PlayMakers Repertory Company is seeking area residents with informed opinions on conflict in the Middle East to present their views in community discussions Sept. 12-16.

The professional theater company in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host the discussions nightly on those dates after its performances of “When the Bulbul Stopped Singing,” a play with a decidedly Palestinian point of view.

Individuals interested in being considered for the panel should contact Jeffrey Meanza, PlayMakers’ education and outreach director, by Aug. 17 at (919) 962-2491 or mail:email.unc.edu:meanza.

PlayMakers will choose panelists so as to balance each night’s presentations, making sure that diverse religious, cultural and political perspectives will be included. UNC experts also will participate. A moderator will facilitate respectful discussion.

PlayMakers’ producing artistic director, Joseph Haj, will star as Palestinian human rights attorney Raja Shehadeh in the drama, to begin at 8 p.m. on Sept. 12 – 15, and 2 p.m. on Sept.16 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre. The venue is inside UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road.

The 70-minute, one-man play presents Shehadeh’s real-life experience of the Israeli siege in March 2002 of his city, the Palestinian community of Ramallah. Then individuals chosen for the panels will speak. Audience members are invited to stay for the panel and to ask questions and present their own opinions afterward.

“As a theatre based at an academic institution, we have a responsibility to examine and wrestle with the complex issues of our day,” Haj said. “We want to tell those stories, to put a human face on part of the conflict, and then to engage our community in an intimate dialogue, with the freedom to disagree.”

“BulBul” is the first of three plays in this year’s “PRC2 Second Stage Series,” each telling unique, real-life stories, and followed by panel discussions. Lisa Kron will perform in her own, Obie Award-winning, “2.5 Minute Ride” (Jan. 9-13, 2008), a wry account of her trip with her father to Auschwitz, where his parents had lost their lives. The world premiere of Mike Wiley’s “Witness to an Execution” (April 23-27, 2008), will explore death row in Texas.

Haj has had a similar theater experience with a play staged by a Jewish theatre group in San Francisco. “We met with an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue group,” he said. “Their central tenet was: ‘An enemy is a person whose story you don’t know.’”

For information about tickets and subscriptions to the PRC² series and PlayMakers’ 2007-2008 mainstage season, call (919) 962-PLAY or visit www.playmakersrep.org. Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ oldest resident professional theatre company.

Web site: http://www.playmakersrep.org

PlayMakers contact: Pam O’Connor, (919) 621-1230 or mail:nc.rr.com:pamo.
College of Arts and Sciences Contact: Dee Reid, (919) 843-6339, mail:unc.edu:deereid.