At the heart of Mosaic Theater Company’s programming lies our “Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival,” bringing to life the souls and struggles of the people of the Middle East, humanizing headlines and creating intersectional bonds between communities here in the US and in the region.

 

The 20th Anniversary Voices Festival is anchored by our first romantic comedy about Arab and East-African New Americans, Pilgrims Musa & Sheri in the New World, and will feature readings uplifting themes of “Egypt in Mind and Memory,” while returning to bedrock Festival investigations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with a seminal interfaith drama kicking off the reading series. 

Nathan the Wise January 13, 2020, at 6:30pm

Adapted and directed by Michael Bloom | From the original by Gotthold Ephraim

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s play Nathan the Wise was initially banned by the Church and later by the Nazis because of its urgent plea for tolerance. Set during the Third Crusade in Jerusalem, the play dramatizes how the gaps between three religions are bridged by an enlightened sultan, a Jewish merchant, and a mysterious Crusader. FREE. Part of Mosaic on the Move at the Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Ave, NW, Ward 4. 

No Desert Roses January 27, 2020 at 7pm

By Laila Soliman | Directed by Noelle Ghoussaini

Set in Cairo at the precipice of past, present, and future, audiences are introduced to a nameless Egyptian writer and trio of other characters as they are swept through a deeply personal mosaic. Illuminating the many aspects of life in Egypt, No Desert Roses highlights the multidimensional nature of struggle in the crux of atrocity. Atlas Lang Theatre, $15.

Bereaved February 3, 2020 at 7pm

By Joshua Sobol | Directed by KenYatta Rogers

Audiences are invited to see the world through the eyes of an Israeli couple and a Palestinian couple, both having suffered the tragic loss of a child. Fashioning this story as a searing cry for compassion, Sobol presents us with a world where truth may be all that stands between us and a war without end. Atlas Lang Theatre, $15.

I Was There February 10, 2020 at 7pm

By Motti Lerner | Directed by Derek Goldman | Featuring Cody Nickell

From the author of The Admission and After the War, Lerner’s latest work is “a daring theatrical attempt to deal with the complex situation making it difficult for IDF soldiers to preserve their humanity, while the country’s political leadership prefers to bury its head in the sand.” Atlas Lang Theatre, $15.

Voices from a 

Changing Middle East

Festival History

The Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival is a central part of Mosaic programming, bringing to life the souls and struggles of the people in the Middle East. Created in 2000 by Founding Artistic Director Ari Roth, while at Theater J, the professional resident company of the DCJCC, the Festival became the popular, critically-hailed, yet controversial program that ultimately triggered the dramatic inception of Mosaic at the end of 2014. Festival highlights during its first 14 seasons at Theater J include Sir David Hare’s Via Dolorosa which inaugurated the festival along with the interfaith Peace Café forum (co-founded by Roth and Mosaic founding board members, Mimi Conway and Andy Shallal); the world premieres of Miklat by Joshua Ford and From Tel Aviv To Ramallah: A Beatbox Journey by Rachel Havrelock featuring Yuri Lane; Motti Lerner’s West Bank drama, Pangs Of The Messiah; Hadar Galron’s Mikveh which anchored a six-play reading series featuring Women’s Voices from across the Middle East; Hillel Mitelpunkt’s The Accident; the 2011 Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv’s production of Return To Haifa performed in Hebrew and Arabic from the Palestinian novella by Ghassan Kanafani; and the acclaimed 2014 workshop production of The Admission, Motti Lerner’s drama about an alleged atrocity during the War of 1948 (which subsequently moved from Theater J to Studio Theatre). Notable workshops have included Roth’s adaptation of Ali Salem’s A Drive To Israel: An Egyptian Meets His Neighbors; David Zellnik’s Ariel Sharon Hovers Between Life and Death and Dreams of Theodore Herzl; and a critical disquisition on Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza.

In its 2016 inaugural offerings during Mosaic’s first Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (and other venues), a trio of solo shows brought to life a multiplicity of national and religious perspectives including Palestinian Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s I Shall Not Hate; Aaron Davidman’s Wrestling Jerusalem; and Leila Buck’s Hkeelee (Talk To Me) which was performed at Arena Stage’s Kogod Cradle. In residence at Woolly Mammoth Theatre’s rehearsal lab, Mosaic told the story of Eritrean and Sudanese refugees seeking asylum in Shay Pitovsky and Shahar Pinkas’ Promised Land; while an Israeli family grew irrevocably divided over the country’s near ­perpetual state of violence and insecurity in the world premiere of Motti Lerner’s After The War.

 

In Mosaic’s Season Two, the 2017 Voices Festival commemorated 50 years of Occupation with two searing works by Israeli and Palestinian authors; Gilad Evron’s Ulysses On Bottles, alongside Hana Eady and Edward Mast’s The Return. The 2018 Voices Festival launched a four-campus national tour, with several seminal works traveling to Oklahoma and Eastern Mennonite Universities, Grinnell College, and the University of Chicago, presenting a multi-faith lens on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. That same spring, Mosaic brought two nationally renowned directors and two sets of multilingual ensembles to DC to produce the most ambitious productions of the Festival’s history; Broadway director Mark Brokaw staged Paper Dolls, Philip Himberg’s play with music based on the acclaimed Israeli documentary film by Tomer Heymann about Filipino guest workers in Tel Aviv; and culminated with the world premiere staging of Mona Mansour’s The Vagrant Trilogy, four decades in the life of Palestinian family, staged by Mark Wing-Davey and developed in collaboration with New York’s Public Theater where The Vagrant Trilogy will be produced in March, 2020.  In 2018-19, the Voices Festival produced its first comedy, Oh, God by Anat Gov; followed by a searing documentary theater piece about cultural censorship in Israel, Shame 2.0 (With Comments From The Populace) by Einat Weizman with Morad Hassan.  The 2020 Voices Festival innovates again with the regional premiere of Yussef El Guindi’s Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World, under-girding themes of “Egypt in Mind and Memory” while continuing its explorations of long-running Israeli-Palestinian dramas presented in a series of readings.

Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival

NATIONAL TOUR 2018

VOICES TIMELINE

2000
Festival Begins as Voices From A Changing Israel at Theater J

Via Dolorosa by David Hare; directed by Nick Olcott

Workshop Readings:
Night Blooming Jasmine by Israela Margalit
Miklat by Joshua Ford
In the Land of Israel by Amos Oz adapted by Joshua Ford
The Murder of Isaac by Motti Lerner

Birth of the Peace Café

2002 

Miklat world premiere by Joshua Ford; directed by Nick Olcott (Helen Hayes Award Nomination/Outstanding New Play) 


Via Dolorosa by David Hare (remount) 

2003

Traveling Jewish Theatre’s God’s Donkey: A Play on Moses, directed by Corey Fisher

From Tel-Aviv to Ramallah: A Beat-Box Journey by Rachel Haverlock; directed by Aaron Davidman (Helen Hayes Award Nomination/Outstanding New Play) 

2004 

Passing the Love of Women world premiere by Motti Lerner & Israel Zamir, adapted from IB Singer (in conjunction with Habimah Theater in Israel)

2005 

Workshop Readings:
Ali Salem Drives to Israel by Ari Roth, based on Ali Salem’s “An Egyptian Meets His Neighbors”

Mikveh

Return to Haifa

The Admission

2007
Festival Becomes Voices From A Changing Middle East

Pangs of the Messiah English Language world premiere by Motti Lerner; directed by Sinai Peter

 

2007 Remount Productions in Conjunction with Capital Fringe Festival:
Via Dolorosa by David Hare
From Tel-Aviv to Remallah: A Beat Box Journey by Rachel Havrelock

 

Workshop Productions:
Ariel Sharon Hovers Between Life and Death and Dreams of Theodor Herzel by David Zellnik
Chasing Justice / Seeking Truth or It’s Just Not That Safe Anymore written and performed by Aaron Davidman, comissioned by Theater J (will become Wrestling Jerusalem)
I-Site and In the Crossing, written and performed by Leila Buck

 

Workshop Readings:
NOOR by Akbar Ahmed
The Arab-Israeli Cookbook by Robin Soans, a Peace Café play reading with cooking

2009

Dai (Enough) written and performed by Iris Bahr  
The Accident by Hillel Mitelpunkt; directed by Sinai Peter
Benedictus an Iran-Israel-US collaboration by Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Motti Lerner, Roberta Levitow, Daniel Michaelson and Torange Yeghiazarian 

 

Workshop Readings:
Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza by Caryl Churchill; co-presented with Forum Theatre
From Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads by Akbar Ahmed 

2010
Voice of the Woman

Mikveh by Hadar Galron; directed by Shirley Serotsky 

Workshop Readings
Headscarf and the Angry Bitch by Zehra Fazal
Apples from the Dessert & the Banality of Love by Savyon Liebrecht at the Embassy of Israel
Games in the Backyard by Edna Mazya
Homesick by Dafna Rubinstein & James Turpin
Out of Silence readings From the Afghan Women’s Writing Project  
Urge for Going by Mona Mansour 

2011 

Cameri Theatre’s Return to Haifa, adapted by Boaz Gaon from Ghassan Kanafani; directed by Sinai Peter (Helen Hayes Award Nomination/Outstanding Lead Actress) 

Workshop Readings:
Argentina by Boaz Gaon  
A Railway to Damascus by Hillel Mitelpunkt
The Promise by Ben Brown
To Pay the Price by Peter-Adrian Cohen
I’m Speaking to You Chinese by Savyon Liebrecht
Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman
Hour of Feeling and Urge for Going by Mona Mansour
Via Dolorosa by David Hare (remount)
The Admission by Motti Lerner

2012 

Workshop Presentations
Boged (Traitor) by Boaz Gaon & Nir Erez, from Ibsen’s An Enemy Of The People
The Big Blue Tent and Jewish Dissent by Robbie Gringras
In Spitting Distance by Taher Najib
Best Friends by Anat Gov
Such a Beautiful Voices is Sayeda’s and Karima’s City by Yussef El Guindi from Salwa Bakr’s The Wiles of Women

2013
Dialogues in the Desert

Apples from the Desert by Savyon Liebrecht; directed by Johanna Gruenhut
Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People by Boaz Gaon & Nir Erez, from Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People; directed by Joseph Megel

Workshop Readings:
Women Soldiers Speak: Testimonies from IDF Soldiers and Inductees, adapted and directed by Jessica Lefkow, in conjunction with Breaking the Silence
The Trial the Refuseniks by Igal Ezraty
Ulysses on Bottles by Gilad Evron 

2014
Narratives of Nation Building

The Admission by Motti Lerner; directed by Sinai Peter (Helen Hayes Award Nomination/Outstanding New Play) 
Golda’s Balcony by William Gibson  (Helen Hayes Award: Outstanding Lead Actress) 

Workshop Readings:
1948 adapted by Noya Lancet from the memoir by Yoram Kaniuk
Hand in Hand Together by A.B. Yehoshua

Wrestling Jerusalem

Hkeelee (Talk to Me)

Paper Dolls

Oh, God

Pilgrims Musa & Sheri

2015
Festival Moves to Mosaic Theater Company at the Atlas Performing Arts Center

Workshop Readings: 

After the War by Motti Lerner at the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival

Hkeelee (Talk to Me) written and performed by Leila Buck, presented at the National Museum of Women in the Arts for the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival

2016
The War Comes Home

Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman

I Shall Not Hate adapted by Izzeldin Abuelaish and Shay Pitovksy, from the memoir by Izzeldin Abuelaish
Eretz Chadasha (Promised Land) by Shachar Pinkas and Shay Pitovsky at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
After the War by Motti Lerner
Hkeelee (Talk to Me) written and performed by Leila Buck at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for  American Theater, Kogod Cradle

2017 

Ulysses on Bottles by Gilad Evron, translated by Evan Fallenberg; directed by Serge Seiden

The Return by Hanna Eady & Edward Mast | Directed by John Vreeke

 

Workshop Reading:

Oh, God by Anat Gov, translated by Anthony Berris, adapted by Guy Ben-Aharon; featuring Rick Foucheux as God

2018 

Voices Tour:

I Shall Not Hate adapted by Izzeldin Abuelaish and Shay Pitovksy, from the memoir by Izzeldin Abuelaish

Wrestling Jerusalem by Aaron Davidman

Via Dolorosa by David Hare

Paper Dolls by Philip Himberg; Directed by Mark Brokaw

The Vagrant Trilogy by Mona Mansour; Directed by Mark Wing-Davey

2019 

Oh, God by Anat Gov; Directed by Michael Bloom

Shame  2.0 (With Comments by The Populace)

Adapted by Einat Weizman from the original SHAME
by Einat Weizman with Morad Hassan

Directed by John Vreeke

Workshop Reading:

The Scream and The Silence by Motti Lerner; Directed by Derek Goldman

2020 

Pilgrims Musa & Sheri In The New World  by Yussef El Guindi; Directed by Shirley Serotsky 

Workshop Readings:

No Desert Roses by Laila Soliman

Bereaved by Joshua Sobol

I Was There by Motti Lerner

Mosaic on the Move:

Nathan the Wise Adapted and directed by Michael Bloom from the original by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing 

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