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Freedom Theatre West Regrets the Passing of Avner Garbi

Born and raised in Libya before moving to Israel and then the United States, where he pursued a career in acting, Avner Garbi died suddenly of a heart attack on May 22, 2013. A versatile performer on the Los Angeles theatre circuit, Avner starred last year in Sarah’s War in the role of Colonel Haas. He will be missed by all who knew him. May peace be upon you, Avner.

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Avner during rehearsal for “Sarah’s War” in 20112

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Avner Garbi (center) surrounded by the cast and crew of Valerie Dillman’s “Sarah’s War” at the Hudson Theatre, 2012

March 29 & 30, FTW presented “Everyone Has Tears”

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On Fri/Sat March 29 and 30, 2013, writer/actress Cynthia Sophiea will perform in a Freedom Theatre West production at Diana Castle’s The Imagined Life Theatre, 5615 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90019.

Interweaving her history as an Arab American with the experience of family members in Palestine and Lebanon, Sophiea humanizes the Arab-American experience and strings together a narrative both personal and political. Sophiea, who both wrote and performs the piece, gives voice to 26 characters in total–Arab, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, women, men, children, even characters from Fiddler on the Roof–people who touched her life with their struggles around identity and its denial, fear of discrimination and of violence, what it means to be “other,” home, homeland, and the loss of that land. Maybe most poignantly she gives voice to her anguished cousin Salim who exclaims, “Just once I want to say I am Palestinian, and not have you think ‘terrorist.’” More/tickets.

Golden Thread’s ReOrient Festival Sets the Stage for Dialogue

Middle Eastern theatre thrives in the Bay Area

By Dina Shuhaiber, Levantine Review

Coincidences can be life’s little gifts. Golden Thread’s triennial event, the ReOrient Festival—a series of short plays exploring the Middle East—was taking place the same weekend I was going to be in San Francisco, and lucky for me someone was needed to attend and report back. But even more coincidental, aside from the continuing Arab Revolution, that same weekend was the peak of Israel’s assault on Gaza, which is where I’m from. On the first night of the festival, my dad and I were on the phone with my uncle in Gaza and I could hear bombs, rockets, and missiles in the background. I couldn’t help but place more significance on the plays I was about to see. Read more.

Save Freedom Theatre Co-Founder Zakaria Zubeidi, On Hunger Strike!

Click here for information about Zakaria Zubeidi’s detention, and what you can do to help. Send an email to the Palestinian Authority. See Guardian letter. Guardian article.

(l-r) Rachel Silverman, Zakaria Zubeidi, Naomi Wallace, Rawand Arqawi, Erin B. Mee, Linda Chapman, Jake Kader

Marley McClean (“Caitlin”), Will Green (“Matthew”), Ayman Samman (“Ryad”), Abica Dubay (“Sarah”)

Sarah’s War, ran for 10 weeks through April 15!
Fri/Sat 8 pm, Sun 3 pm

4.8out of five stars by Goldstar voters

“[Under] Matt McKenzie’s assured direction of a fine cast, the piece finds its most intimate perspective on Sarah’s death in the emotional aftermath for her family.” —Philip Brandes

Pick of the WeekLA Weekly’s Pick of the Week calls Sarah’s War a production of “well-calibrated pacing” and “solid performances.”

Backstage West’s Critic’s Pick. “Dillman’s play is provocative and full of affecting scenes. The title character (Abica Dubay) is depicted as an idealist so naively passionate that her death seems almost inevitable. Sarah’s mother, Ann (Terry Davis), is tormented by conflicts and a desperate need to know what really happened. And Danny, the driver of the fatal bulldozer (Will Rothhaar), becomes a tormented figure with deep-seated doubts about the justice of his mission.” —Neal Weaver

Rated 100% at L.A. Bitter Lemons!top-rated play with LA Bitter Lemons! “…a briskly effective production, giving equal sympathy to all the warring factions“Dillman sees the complexity of the situation, and she uses all that complexity and ambivalence to intensify the drama” “Refusing to frame the conflict in terms of heroes and villains, Dillman’s play reminds us that although it’s easy to pass judgment from halfway around the world, understanding is much harder to come by.”

“Dillman’s work ultimately succeeds in illuminating the event’s human, political and moral particulars.” —Deborah Klugman, LA Weekly

“What a captivating and intriguing play! The acting and the whole production were outstanding! In my opinion, Sarah’s War is a must-see. It is the least one can do for Rachel [Corrie], who had big dreams to fulfill and truly believed in peaceful protest as a way to resolve conflicts. Thank you Valerie Dillman and Matt McKenzie for your brilliant work.” —Dida Saab

“Saw it, felt it, lived it…a must see production. GREAT acting by all!” —Cheri Masek

“What a masterful piece of work by Valerie Dillman and Matt Mckenzie. For two hours you will be glued to your seat watching the events unfold as if you are part of the action taking place on stage.And the acting is superb, full of energy and drama.” —Azzam

“What a wonderful evening of theater. I have not been able to stop thinking about it.” —Michael Phillips, producer, The Sting

“I saw the play tonight. It was extraordinary! The acting was superb, great casting. The story was so true to life concerning the grieving parents, Sarah and the other activists. I was deeply moved by the whole production. What a great ending too. I brought three friends who all raved about it. The actress Terry Davis portrayed the grieving mother with complete realism. Thanks so much to all who worked hard to allow this story to be told so elequently.” —Julie Freitas

“We loved Sarah’s War.  We thought the writing, directing, acting and production was excellent!  The issues and conflicts were so well highlighted and we just raved and raved all the way home.” —Monica A. Coleman, Ph.D.

“I loved the play. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in years.” —Olfet Agrama

Synopsis

Sarah is an idealistic 23-year-old who decides to join members of the International Solidarity Movement in Palestinian Territories under Israeli military occupation, much to the consternation of her Jewish uncle, to whom she initially appeals for support. He doesn’t want her to potentially put herself in harm’s way. It’s pointed out to her that there are plenty of worthwhile things that need to be done right in her own backyard.

It’s rough going for her once she arrives in the Middle East. There are Arabs who  suspect her of being a spy, while some Israelis regard her as a terrorist sympathizer. Yet Sarah sees herself as a peace activist and is determined to remain.

She’s in a village, however, where soldiers, tanks and militarized bulldozers are nearby.  When armies and civilians conflict, destiny is sometimes cruel…

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