The Peace Cafe marches on

Every week this year, since the inauguration of our new president, there’s been a peace cafe event either here at Theater J or at co-founder Andy Shallal’s Busboys and Poets. Every session is worth a write up; worth even a mini-play. So much goes on — little dramas, dangers, as bridge work is laid, sometimes successfully, (often, it seems) while bombs explode about us in the world, in the region of our concern. Now, with our own tempest in a theater surrounding the brush-back from our announcement to look critically at SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN and present incisive discussions about the play and hear artistic responses and rebuttals from the community, the work of the Peace Cafe continues; community building discussion like no where else. Makes me proud all over to be working at Theater J.

Here’s a write up from Peace Cafe co-founder and Theater J Council member (and past co-chair) Mimi Conway:

About sixty people of all ages –patrons, newcomers, mothers and sons, students, and Peace Cafe regulars–crowded into the lively Peace Cafe we held Thursday night directly after BENEDICTUS. The wonderful cast joined in as we shared hummus and pita and food-for-thought menus with questions to digest and answer together about issues raised in the play.

Students from the University of California and the University of Michigan offered their comments on the play and their sense of the relative hopefulness or near hopelessness of negotiations such as the ones represented in BENEDICTUS.

Some Middle East peace activists from Foundry Methodist, our neighbor across Sixteenth Street, shared their experiences and observations. An American couple back home after several years in Iran offered their insights. One of the cast members reported that in the playwright’s view, all of the characters told the truth. Yet many of the audience thought all the
characters in the play were lying. We discussed that complexity.

We also talked about this play in the context of the Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival and the richness of the voices represented. We talked as well about what’s still upcoming: Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads by Akbar Ahmed on March 23 and the readings of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN: A Play for Gaza and related readings on March 25 and 26.

A common theme of the evening’s discussion was the realization that finding ways to talk and negotiate is a necessity to avoid the dire consequences represented at the play’s end.

-Mimi Conway