Palestinian-Syrian refugees focus of play ‘Desert of Light’

Cornell Chronicle
An image taken in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus, from the multimedia production 'Desert of Light' at the Schwartz Center. Photo by Lens Yound Dimashqi.
An image taken in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus, from the multimedia production 'Desert of Light' at the Schwartz Center. Photo by Lens Yound Dimashqi.

Palestinian-Syrian playwright Rama Haydar’s “Desert of Light” is a tragicomic and human portrayal of the refugee crisis in the Middle East – and “a very inside perspective of the brutal experience of war and the impossible dilemmas that have faced these refugees,” said Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA) assistant professor Rebekah Maggor, the play’s co-translator and director.

The main characters are two young Palestinian-Syrian refugees, trapped along with 18,000 others in the Yarmouk refugee camp under siege outside Damascus, Haydar’s home city. Before civil war broke out in 2011, the “camp” was an urban neighborhood for 160,000 Palestinian refugees.

“Desert of Light” is the first in PMA’s yearlong series of works by women playwrights, and is part of the Cornell Council for the Arts’ 2016 Biennial, “Abject/Object Empathies.”

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