News posted in December 2016

Artistic Ruminations


Where politicians and diplomats fail, artists and storytellers may yet succeed. Not in ratifying a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, but in building the sort of social and political connectivity that enables resolution. In the absence of healthy relationships, and amid the persistence of narratives that reproduce staticity, Malek Najjar, Corey Pond, and I have curated Semitic Commonwealth, a staged reading series comprised of six plays that explore the human toll of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Not with timelines, statistics, and SWOT analyses, but a laser sharp focus on the personal prices paid by those most affected.

To this end, we have assembled a team of distinguished playwrights of Arab and Jewish backgrounds: Ken Kaissar, Ismail Khalidi, Hannah Khalil, Motti Lerner, Mona Mansour, and Zohar Tirosh-Polk—all of whom have written plays that propel the discourse well beyond the predictable enmities and righteous posturing, the monotonous talking points and selective memories that have stifled progress for far too long. These plays do not march in lockstep, but are dynamic, original, challenging, provocative, complicated, funny, painful, and sometimes controversial. They are plays that explore themes of identity, justice, occupation, exile, history, and homeland with remarkable honesty and integrity.

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Chicago Tribune - Methodist church eases post-election fears for Muslim, minority artists

Malik Gillani remembers the first day his world turned upside down. It was Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorist attacks cast a cloud of suspicion on his entire Muslim community.

When the Indian-born Muslim woke up the day after the 2016 presidential election, his world was shaken again. Donald Trump had won the White House. The country's next leader had proposed barring Muslim immigrants from coming to the U.S. and, early in his campaign, had made vague references to the possible registration of those who already live here.

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