Palestine: the walls and hope

Walls, tears and za’tar
Stories of life and voices from Palestine

Gianluca Solera




At the Nuovo Theatre (Varese, Italy), the theatrical version of the book by Gianluca Solera, “Za’tar”.
The director, Daniele Braiucca: “I wanted to give a meaning to the segregation.”

Za’tar presents stories based on the Middle-eastern conflict. The Nuovo Theatre continues its season “Stage notes”, at 9 p.m. this evening, with the first performance of the play based on the book by Gianluca Solera, Walls, tears and Za’tar, stories of life and voices from Palestine (published by Nuovedimensioni); the play is directed by Daniele Brajuka, and performed by the Teatro Elidan actors (Alessandra Fiori, Daniela Sbrana, Echarqaoui El Kessab, Elisa Renaldin, Luisa Carabelli, Rolf Cook, Simone Corà, and Gianluca Solera), with original music and videos by Ermanno Librasi.
The play presents the difficult relationships between Israelis and Palestinians in a contested and wounded land. The conflict, the walls, the tenacity of personal positions. There is a message of hope and rebirth linked to the suffering and the need for tolerance, understanding and communication that are the shreds of humanity that emerge from the events that involve the actors. Brajuka explains the message of the play.

How did Za’tar come about?
I’m very proud to have met Gianluca Solera and to have been involved in the project Za’tar. Elisa Renaldin, one of the members of Teatro Elidan, met the author at a reading. Gianluca was thinking of producing a play, we met, and began a wonderful collaboration. It took two years and no fewer than thirteen drafts to get to the final text, but it was all necessary to avoid any mistakes.”

Could you describe the plot?
“The play presents the lives of two families, an Israeli and a Palestinian. As the tension rises, with occupations and military interventions and retaliations, the story reaches a dramatic finale.”

Why did you decide to write the play?
“What first struck me when I read Solera’s book was the feeling of ‘self-segregation’ you get from reading it. I wanted to create a scene that was increasingly filled with objects, with bulky walls. The characters experience conflicts, and suffer mounting crises, which is what really happens. The play has some special contents, namely prayers that were sent especially for Za’tar by Faysal El Husseini (the former Head of the PLO for Jerusalem Affairs), Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman and the former patriarch of the Latin Church in the Holy Land, Michel Sabbah.”

What is the meaning of the play, especially for the audience?
“Za’tar is an aromatic herb that is used a lot in middle Eastern cooking. In those places, it grows even where there has been destruction. It is deeply rooted to its land and to its origins. But za’tar is also resistance in the face of difficulty, rebirth; it’s also the name of project of collaboration with former Israeli and Palestinian soldiers of the organisation Combatants for Peace, who present a prospect for tolerance. A Palestinian director once told me that it is only by teaching people, particularly young people, dialogue and tolerance that they will succeed where politics, economics and religion have failed. Theatre can be an important instrument, and the play should be seen in this light.”

Anna De Pietri