The second installment of the Voices of a Changing Middle East Theatre Series was entitled I Shall Not Hate.
This serious has continued to blow my mind and months late, I still find myself thinking back to these shows.
I shall not hate centers around a Palestinian male doctor who traveled between Israel and Palestine serving as a medical doctor. He grew up in a refugee camp and trained at Harvard,, leaving behind his wife and his children. He came back and was the first Palestinian to serve in an Israeli hospital, helping Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The play centers around the many struggles that he has to go through- crossing borders, suffering abuse and discrimination, and dealing with the pains of war. Throughout all of the injustice that he faces, he does not harbor any anger or hate. He continues to advocate for peace and to work against prejudice on both sides.
At the end, an attack on his house kills three of his daughters and a niece. He witnesses the tragic and graphic destruction and wails in agony. One daughter survived, her eye hanging out of her face and her fingers split from her hand. Despite this extreme pain and loss, he still amazingly forgave the Israeli war power.
Theatrically, it was absolutely beautiful. The actor himself switched between Hebrew and Arabic (English subtitles were projected onto a screen) which gave the minimalistic one man show an authentic feel. The simple artistic elements powerfully illustrated the emotional turmoil he experienced. In one memorable scene, while the doctor was trying to cross borders to get to his dying wife, he carried a suitcase across the stage with him. The suitcase leaked sand through a hole in the bottom like sand falling from an hour glass. As he was sent from place to place trying to get clearance, the sand left trails all across the stage, lines here, piles there. The sound echoed on the ground, cutting through time and powerfully illustrating the urgency of the incredibly frustrating situation. The piece was a very acute reminder of the horrors happening right now in the world, but also of the incredible humanity. His power to forgive was astounding and resonated deeply with me. Peace in the face of violence, love in the face of hatred. It’s impressive and admirable and honorable — it is something I will carry with me and aspire to in my life. I was incredibly impressed with the production, with the story, and with the power of live theater.