The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be front-and-center at Spoleto Festival USA with Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai’s multimedia theater work “Letter to a Friend in Gaza,” scheduled to be performed May 30-June 2 at the Emmett Robinson Theatre.
The world premiere is derived from Gitai’s 2018 documentary, and references French author Albert Camus’ three-part “Letter to a German Friend,” written during World War II.
At 18 years old, Gitai read Camus’ letters, which contrasted the author’s ideas of humanistic freedom with the ideology of the Third Reich, and this showed Gitai how social and political activism and literature could be combined, he said.
“He (Camus) always tried to humanize the ‘other’ in his writing,” Gitai said. “What I say in this piece is an homage to him. We have to be vocal: No more killings, inhuman treatment, force or brutality in this world.”
Gitai collaborated with Makram Khoury, a Palestinian-Israeli actor, to create the short film “Letter to a friend in Gaza.” In the staged version, two Palestinians and two Israelis read texts by writers Amira Haas, Mahmoud Darwish, Yizhar Smilansky and Emile Habibi. The show includes music by a Syrian oud player, an Israeli violinist and an Iranian santoor player.
Haas, a Haaretz correspondent who has covered the Occupied Territories since 1993, felt honored to be able to contribute to this work.
“Any opportunity to tell about Gaza and Israeli policies — of making it into a huge prison — is most welcome,” said Haas, who lived in Gaza for three years and the West Bank for the past 22 years. “Since 1993 Israel has done everything in order to foil the two-state solution, which at that time the majority of Palestinians accepted as the logical way to ensure another future for their children,” Haas said.