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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Crossing the divide

Published: March 16, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Too often in discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, partisans on either side of the issue do not make the effort to actually sit down in the same room and really listen to one another. While some venues on our campus do attempt to bring people together – the Arab-Jewish Dialogue group comes to mind – the sad truth is that most events on this campus addressing this issue tend to lean to one side or the other, and are attended by people who come to see their point of view reinforced.

This weekend, a special event on our campus will attempt to bridge that divide. The Brandeis Players proudly present the North American premiere of Crossing Jerusalem in the Shapiro Theater, a contemporary British drama that examines the lives of one Israeli family over a twenty four hour period during the height of the most recent Intifada. It follows them to the Arab quarter of the Old City, where a chance encounter sends events spinning in unexpected directions.

Adam Schwartzbaum 07, the director of Crossing Jerusalem, chose to bring this play to Brandeis because, as he states, I believe that the theater is a place where multiple points of view can be expressed and heard, where we can examine the difficult realities of our world not as we wish them to be, but as they are. I want Crossing Jerusalem to be an opportunity for people on both sides of this issue to come together and listen to the stories of the other, and see the ways in which this conflict is not black and white, but is rather a complex moral compromise of flesh and blood mired in grey.

With a stellar cast that include lots of fresh new talent as well as a remarkable production and design team, the Brandeis Players' Crossing Jerusalem promises to deliver the genuinely moving theatrical experience worth checking out.

The show's premier on Thursday night was accompanied by a special appearance. Immediately following on the heels of the performance, Julia Pascal, the playwright, came and gave a talkback. Flown in from London for this event, she engaged the audience and answered questions about the show. Pascal will again lead a discussion on Sunday afternoon following the play's last perfomance.

Additional showings of Crossing Jerusalem are on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, as well as a Sunday matinee at 2 pm. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. They can be purshased on Friday in either Usdan or Shapiro from 10 am until 2 pm.