Cameri Theatre’s Return to Haifa at Theater J in DC



Rosina Kambus and Erez Kahana in Return to Haifa/Photo: Moshe Shai

The Cameri Theatre production of Return to Haifa adapted by Boaz Gaon from the novella by Ghassan Kanafani (1936 – 1972), directed by Sinai Peter, will be performed at Theater J in Washington D.C. from January 15 – 30, 2011, anchoring the fourth annual Voices of a Changing Middle East Festival: Portraits from Home.

Return to Haifa is a unique presence on the stage, breaking through the monolithic barriers of history and politics to tell a human story that cannot be conveyed through headlines or slogans. Written over forty years ago by Kanafani, the play centers on two couples. Sa’id and Saffiyah are forced to escape Haifa during the turmoil of 1948, somehow, in the chaos of war – their baby was left behind. Returning twenty years later to their former home, they find Miriam Goshen, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who has raised the boy as her own. Grappling with questions of identity, love, loyalty, justice, nature, nurture and the relationships between parents and children, the play does not content itself with easy answers. This imaginary encounter is both moving and thought-provoking, with an honest, empathic perspective that acknowledges the emotions without denying difficulty, recognizing the human suffering of all those involved in the conflict.

Rosina Kambus is an accomplished Israeli actress who has received many accolades for her work, including an award from the Tel Aviv Municipality for her role in Return to Haifa.  As Miriam Goshen, a woman and survivor whose world was torn asunder and rebuilt through nurturing her adopted son, Kambus offers a mesmerizing portrait of a complex woman reluctantly faced with a shifting reality. Erez Kahana wonderfully conveys the arrogance and vulnerability of a young man whose sense of identity is suddenly and abruptly questioned. The cast includes: Raida Adon, Suhil Hadad, Nissim Zohar and Misha Teplitzki.

The play will be performed in Hebrew, with English surtitles. This will be the Cameri Theatre’s second visit to DC, following their 2007 performances at the Shakespeare festival with Hamlet, directed by Omri Nitzan and starring Itai Tiran. The Cameri’s participation in the Theater J festival was sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Kashtum.

Ari Roth, Artistic Director of Theater J, extends the dialogue beyond the stage, with post-performance discussions:

Saturday, January 15 at 9:30pm – First Impressions from a First Preview: Discussion with Artistic Director Ari Roth and Anton Goodman (Jewish Agency Shaliach and Israel Engager)

Sunday, January 16 at 4:30pm – A Discussion with the Creative Team: Boaz Gaon (Playwright/Adapter); Sinai Peter (Director of RETURN TO HAIFA); Noam Semel (Director General of the Cameri Theatre)
Sunday, January 16 at 9:30pm – A Peace Café breaking bread with the artists of RETURN TO HAIFA

Tuesday, January 18 at 9pm — Palestinian and Israeli Narratives: Addressing Conflict/Building Peace, in partnership with J Street DC Metro, featuring Hadar Susskind (Vice President of Policy and Strategy, J Street); Daniel Levy (Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation); Jamal Najjab (Director of Operations, United Palestinian Appeal)

Wednesday, January 19 at 9pm — Controversial Issues within the Community, in partnership with Washington Hebrew Congregation, featuring Rabbi Bruce Lustig (Senior Rabbi, Washington Hebrew Congregation); Naomi Rosenblatt (educator, psychotherapist, author of Wrestling With Angels); and others

Thursday, January 20 at 9pm — Interpreting a Dual Narrative, Adapting RETURN TO HAIFA, featuring Boaz Gaon (adapter); Dr. Yuval Benziman (Visiting Professor at the Joseph & Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland); Gregory Khalil (President & Co-founder of The Telos Group, educating America’s faith communities for Holy Land Peace); Ronit Avni (Award-winning filmmaker and activist, Founder/Executive Director of Just Vision)

Saturday, January 22 at 9:30pm – A Peace Café – Celebrating the Ten Year Anniversary of the Peace Café Discussion Series, featuring Jeremy Ben-Ami (President, J Street); Mai Abdul Rahman (Palestinian-American)

Sunday, January 23 at 4:30pm – Bridging the Gap, Jewish-Arab Relations Today: Moderated by Ron Kampeas (Washington, D.C. bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency); Yaniv Sagee (Israel Representative to Givat Haviva, advancing Jewish-Arab relations in Israel); Paul Scham (Visiting Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park); Leon Hadar (Research Fellow at the Cato Institute, author of Quagmire: America in the Middle East)

Sunday, January 23 at 9pm — Judaism and Human Rights, in partnership with Rabbis for Human Rights North America, featuring Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg (Adas Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights); Rabbi Gerry Serrotta (Executive Director of Clergy Beyond Borders and Rabbi of Shirat HaNefesh Congregation)

Tuesday, January 25 at 9pm – Creating a Cross Cultural Dialogue, in partnership with Yes We Can Middle East Peace, featuring Kay Halpern (senior analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office); Dan Spiro (author and essayist and cofounder of the Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society); Jim Vitarello (Co-founder YesMEP and Sharing Jerusalem); Aziz Fahmy Farag (Bureau Chief/Senior Correspondent, Saudi TV)

Wednesday, January 26 at 9pm — 2010: Palestinian and Israeli Views of the Other, featuring Shibley Telhami (Sadat Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland); Scott Lasensky (Senior Research Associate in the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention at the U.S. Institute of Peace)

Thursday, January 27 at 9pm –The Story Behind the Story, a discussion with the cast of RETURN TO HAIFA and Mustafa Abu Sway (Al Quds University, Jerusalem and Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at Bard College)

Saturday, January 29 at 9:30pm – Sustained Trauma in a Conflict Zone, featuring Dr. Judy Roth (Mental Health Activists in Partnership); Rabbi Sid Schwarz (Senior Fellow at Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) and student representatives from Face To Face and Seeds of Peace

Sunday, January 30 at 4:30pm – Scripture Unscripted: Multi-Faith Dialogues, our continuing series bringing Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy and community members together for post-performance reflection

There may be changes to the schedule, please refer to the Theater J site for updates and further information.
Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater
Washington DC Community Center
1529 16th Street NW
Washington DC 20036
Corner of 16th and Q; 4 blocks east of Dupont Circle