Theatre Tidbits / by R. Sheth

March 27, 2009

Silk Road Theatre Project begins its 2009 season with the Midwest Premiere of Pangs of the Messiah by renowned Israeli playwright Motti Lerner. The production, directed by Piven Theatre Workshop Artistic Director Jennifer Green, will run March 19 - May 10, 2009.

Set in 2012 amidst the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, Motti Lerner's Pangs of the Messiah is an apocalyptic yet fiercely humane drama about eight West Bank Jewish settlers pitted against an Israel they feel betrayed by. The play focuses on a religious family that finds itself torn between fighting to stay in their settlement and obeying their government's decision to dismantle it. Left hanging in the balance is the legacy of their beliefs.

Silk Road Theatre Project Artistic Director Jamil Khoury comments that "I am utterly bound up and wound up by this play. Pangs of the Messiah embodies everything that Silk Road Theatre Project audiences have come to cherish about the company's repertoire. It's an intelligent, provocative, and emotionally compelling play that allows audiences to arrive at their own conclusions." Khoury adds, "I come to this play with lived experience of the issues at hand. During the first Intifada [Palestinian uprising in the Israeli occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip], I worked with and advocated for Palestinian refugee communities in Jerusalem and the West Bank as a United Nations Refugee Affairs Officer. Thus Pangs of the Messiah speaks to me and challenges me on deeply personal levels. The play elicits within me sympathy for the settler family depicted, at times empathy, and in so doing, it creates a distinct discomfort, a fear of committing betrayal and of forgetting, particularly as an Arab American. But it was while swimming in those initial feelings of anxiety and unease that I knew instinctively we had to produce this play."