In 1997, Olivier Award-winning playwright David Hare visited Israel and Palestine to better understand the complex conflicts of the region and to write a play based on his travels. Via Dolorosa is the illuminating result, combining interviews and conversations with artists, politicians, historians, and settlers with the author’s own experiences in an extraordinary narrative that examines ideologies and issues of faith from those living in “The Holy Land.”
Part of the Next Rep Black Box Festival, alongside The Testament of Mary.
“It reinforces one’s faith in theatre as a means of communication…a deeply moving theatrical mosaic.”
“The 90-minute, no-intermission piece is a tour de force by [David Bryan] Jackson and a riveting torrent of words about a tiny country with intractable problems that seems to dominate the daily headlines, despite its distance from the West. Two groups – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are in constant battle over a few narrow miles of land… To his credit, [David] Hare does not judge who is right… Rather, he comes out troubled like the rest of us, and deeply aware of the human failings of pride, anger, and self-interest on all sides in this compelling and personal solo drama.”
Black Box Sponsor:
RYAN BATES (Scenic Designer) has designed Ideation, Brecht on Brecht, Thurgood, The Testament of Mary, Via Dolorosa, and The Snow Queen at New Rep. Other recent scenic design credits include Los Meadows (Boston Public Works); Dear Elizabeth and Melancholy Play (The Umbrella); Blasted (Off the Grid Theatre Company); The Last Five Years (Arts After Hours); The Launch Prize (Bridge Repertory Theatre); That Time the House Burned Down (Fresh Ink); Academy Fight Song (Centastage); A Visit with Marie Curie (Parity Productions); Angels in America (Boston University Opera Institute); and 4000 Miles and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Gloucester Stage Company). Ryan received his MFA in Scenic Design from Boston University and a BA in Theatre and Art History from Middlebury College. Originally from Danvers, he currently resides in Brighton. Upcoming projects include Or (Maiden Phoenix and Simple Machine) at Chelsea Theatre Works.
*member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
Whose Holy Land: Tradition, History, and Conflict
JAN 24/2016 following 2pm performance of Via Dolorosa
Bridget Kathleen O’Leary
Studying Mary: Questions of Faith
FEB 7 following 2pm performance of The Testament of Mary
Louise Kennedy, WBUR
Colm Tóibín: Irish Literature for the 21st Century
FEB 18 following 7:30pm performance of The Testament of Mary
Kyna Hamill, PhD, Boston University
Colm Tóibín, primarily a novelist, and David Hare, playwright and screenwriter, have bravely ventured into this fraught territory to provide their own perspectives—Tóibín reimagining the voice of Mary, Hare delving into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the inside out. Tóibín originally wrote the play under the title Testament, which premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2011. The author then turned his monologue play into a novella titled The Testament of Mary, and finally into a new draft of the play under the same title, which premiered on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in 2013. Tóibín’s initial choice of drama as the vehicle through which to tell the story fulfilled a particular purpose. As he told an interviewer:
You can spend your life writing novels and never see anybody reading them. You never know at what point they thought this or that. There is an absolute sense of silence. Someone reads it in silence. You might get reviews, or someone might tell you something—the closest thing is seeing stars on Amazon. . . . Having a live audience is both terrifying and a great relief.
Via Dolorosa was written in 1997 in response to David Hare’s own visit to the Middle East. The play was originally performed by its author. Like Tóibín, Hare found drama to be the ideal medium through which to tell his story. In his words:
I could have written an article, but journalism just doesn’t stick. I know far more about subjects I’ve seen plays about than those I’ve read about in newspapers or magazines. It’s rare for journalism to scour deep into the underlying meaning of a subject. Of course, reaction to this play will be diverse, but my claim has always been that people think more deeply when they think together. That’s what theater does. . . . I suppose the test of this play will be whether audiences respond to the questions that intrigue me: What does art add to this situation in the Middle East? How, if at all, does it illuminate?
Both plays are epic in scope as they attempt to grapple meaningfully with the political and religious strife that has defined the area for centuries. However, both plays also feel personal. The playwrights strive to humanize complex perspectives that are often presented as one-sided and dogmatic. Because each play exists as a one-on-one dialogue between actor and audience, the intimacy of the theatrical experience becomes a powerful tool through which to foster honesty, compassion, and potential change.
NOTES BY RUTH SPACK, EDITED BY ADRIENNE BORIS
Geering, Lloyd. “Who Owns the Holy Land?” The Fourth R. Jan-Feb, 2002. Web.
Lassner, Jacob, and S. Ilan Troen. Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2007.
Lincoln Center Theater. Overview: Via Delorosa (1999). Web.
Orel, Gwen. “Hearing the Voice of Mother Mary: A talk with Colm Tóibín.” New York Irish Arts. April 21, 2013. Web
Roberts, Jo. Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe. Toronto: Dundurn, 2013.
Said, Edward. “The Current Status of Jerusalem.” Edward Said’s Lost Essay on Jerusalem. Jerusalem Quarterly 45 (2011). Web.