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Friday, March 14, 2014

"Wrestling Jerusalem": Telling the Complex Palestinian-Israeli Story

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Aaron Davidman, wrote and performs 'Wrestling Jerusalem' - KEN FRIEDMAN
  • Ken Friedman
  • Aaron Davidman, wrote and performs 'Wrestling Jerusalem'

With "Wrestling Jerusalem," his solo show at Intersection for the Arts, playwright and actor Aaron Davidman wants to do something seemingly impossible -- present the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one of the most entrenched of our time, in a nuanced way- as a story rather than a diatribe.

"I like to say my play is not a protest play unless it's protesting polemic, in which case it is a protest play," he said. "To realize things aren't so black and white -- that's the new radical."

Davidman, former artistic director of the now defunct Traveling Jewish Theater in San Francisco, has written two other plays about the issue, which he feels is a central one for American Jews. Plus he thinks it makes great drama.

In "Wrestling Jerusalem," Davidman, who first went to Israel as a 25-year-old in the early '90s to study the Torah, presents his own story as well as that of more than a dozen other characters including a Palestinian field worker for Israeli human rights, a former army commander who considered refusing military service, the father of Israeli kid killed in bus bombing, and a Palestinian farmer whose orchards have been destroyed.

The characters are all based on people he met and stories he heard, Davidman says, and he thinks they all have something important to say. He wasn't trying to get an even mix of stories, he adds.

"I didn't set out to be balanced," he said. "That doesn't make good theater necessarily, and balance has a feeling of two sides. I'm trying to present multiplicity and complexity."

The Intersection along with the New Israel Fund will sponsor the Peace Café after the Sunday matinees, so audience members can talk about issues the play brings up. It's a chance for people to genuinely consider other views, Davidman says.

"The media age is giving us less time to think deeply -- we just grab headlines and zip through everything," he said. "I hope this will give people an immersive experience."

"Wrestling Jerusalem" is in previews, opening on Saturday, March 15 and running through April 6 at the Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission St., San Francisco. Tickets are $20-$30. Please go to theintersection.org to order tickets.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Emily Wilson

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