Desert of Light

SEPTEMBER 22 & 23; 7:30PM

SEPTEMBER 24; 2:00PM & 7:00PM



Desert of Light is a black comedy by Palestinian-Syrian writer Rama Haydar. The play was co-translated from the Arabic by the playwright and PMA Assistant Professor Rebekah Maggor, who also directs. Set outside Damascus in the Yarmouk refugee camp, Desert of Light reveals the tragic absurdity of the Syrian civil war. As a brutal siege rages outside, two Palestinian-Syrian refugees in their mid-twenties, Guy A and Guy B, debate the best plan of escape and eventually come to blows over the meaning of love, resistance, and exile. With surprising humor and devastating candor, Desert of Light offers an intimate and boldly critical perspective on the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East. The multimedia production, which combines drama, poetry, dance, and live music, is part of the Cornell Council of the Arts (CCA) 2016 Biennial, the focus of which is the cultural production of empathy. Desert of Light is also the first production in PMA’s year-long season of works by female playwrights. Each performance will be followed by a post-show panel discussion with playwright Rama Haydar, in conversation with co-translator and director Rebekah Maggor, and a different Cornell faculty member or guest scholar.

In discussing her choice to translate and direct Desert of Light, Maggor cites her interest in new play development, particularly plays by women writers. “Rama Haydar is an extraordinarily talented young writer coming out of a rich tradition of political drama in Syria. Her language is sharp and theatrical and her characters are vivid and unexpected.” Maggor adds that beyond Haydar’s “critical dissection of current events in Syria” her play makes “unlikely connections between Palestinian experiences of war, exile, occupation, and immigration and a growing global canon of the drama of displacement.” Maggor hopes that American audiences will see “these Palestinian-Syrian characters as both unique individuals entangled in personal and historically specific struggles, but also as representatives of a diverse underclass of men and women around the world.”



PROJECT BY: Rebekah Maggor (director & translator) and Rama Haydar (writer & translator)

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