In ‘Masked,’ an Israeli playwright shows the enemy’s ‘human face’

In Serres, where it made its Greek debut, the play was consistently sold out. At the city’s regional theater, Israeli Ilan Hatsor’s «Masked,» chosen by director Vangelis Theodoropoulos in a co-production with the Neos Cosmos Theater, clicked with local audiences. Staged before the current crisis began in Gaza, it is undoubtedly a very timely production, even in view of recent developments in Athens. The play is about duty, revolt and betrayal, as observed in the tragedy of a family vanishing during a nasty dispute. This is where blood ties, moral codes and the struggle for survival find no common ground – the moment when one has to choose between oneself, one’s family and one’s people. Though the play takes place in Palestine, it could have been set in the Sarajevo or Belfast of a few years ago. The plot unfolds in a village during the emergence of the first Intifada, with three brothers coming into conflict with each another – a story as old as it is current. As the three boys are caught up in the web of the merciless Arab-Israeli conflict, it is interesting to see the playwright telling the story from a Palestinian point of view, showing his home country’s public the «enemy’s» face. «The play gives both points of view. This is the essence of political theater,» notes director Theodoropoulos. «In other words, this is not a case of propaganda.» As a teenager Theodoropoulos participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations. He was always concerned, however, with finding out the thoughts and feelings of the other side. This is precisely what he found in Hatsor’s play when he first saw it on stage in New York. «The play demonstrates how war is changes within a family, rendering with subtlety the psychology of those confined in their own country,» says Theodoropoulos. «It’s a play that talks about the horrors of war from the ‘enemy’s’ point of view, much like Euripides’ ‘Trojan Woman.’» Hatsor penned the play in 1990, when he was a theater student at Tel Aviv University. In a text written in view of the play’s staging in New York, Hatsor noted that he was not concerned with the characters being «Arab» or «Palestinian,» but simply being brothers, who, in this case are Palestinians, though they could have been Irish, Bosnian or German – people whose lives have become caught up in the whirlpool of bigger and stronger powers. The play has seen more than 70 stagings around the world. At the Neos Cosmos Theater, where the play opens tonight, the cast includes Michalis Economou, Giorgos Papageorgiou and Orestis Tziovas. Neos Cosmos Theater – Kato Choros, 7 Antisthenous and Tharyppou, Fix, tel 210.921.2900.

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