July 17, 2024

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‘This is Who I Am’ raises curtain on Zoom theater

Playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi had to make a lot of decisions when generating new Zoom-participate in “This Is Who I Am.” The most significant could have been a culinary one particular.

“This Is Who I Am” reunites an estranged father (Ramsey Faragallah) and son (Yousof Sultani), divided by oceans, more than Zoom as they each cook the similar treasured relatives dish. Put on by PlayCo and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Organization with our have American Repertory Theater and the Guthrie Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Pageant, the output options the actors cooking in authentic-time as they discover themes of grief and length, both equally geographical and generational.

DEC. 14, 2020 – Ramsey Faragallah and Yousof Sultani in rehearsal for “This Is Who I Am.” Picture courtesy American Repertory Theater

“They cook fteer, a simple snack, a pastry crammed with spinach and sumac,” Zuabi said from Palestine by using Zoom. “I really do not know why, but I knew I didn’t want them to cook everything with meat. Instinctively, I needed a little something with dough. I preferred the kneading ingredient.”

“And it’s some thing I genuinely appreciate taking in,” he said with a smile. “It’s quintessential Palestine somehow.”

Determining what father and son would prepare dinner could have been easier than deciding if he would even develop “This Is Who I Am.”

Zuabi is a excellent winner of theater. An award-profitable playwright, he is also the creative director of ShiberHur and served as affiliate director of Young Vic London from 2009 to 2017. But he was not absolutely sure of how the art form would engage in out on Zoom. He continue to won’t dedicate to defining the production as theater.

“Virtual theater has usually been problematic for me since theater has constantly been about acquiring with each other as a local community and paying a moment in a genuine shared house with performers,” he explained. “But what was clear when we 1st began was that I would truly feel at ease if the Zoom was component of the plot. So the Zoom is ingrained into what is going on (in the manufacturing).”

Zuabi sees Zoom as a shared room but with limitations. “We can see and listen to each other as a result of our screens but significantly of the sensory working experience is erased or blunted.

“If they are cooking one thing together, they are sharing the smells and the noises and all of a sudden there is a single ambiance,” he said. “If you are cooking a burger and I am cooking a burger, there are a lot of things that can help bridge these two walls of glass that we talk via.”

“This Is Who I Am” was born out of necessity and restrictions. That will make it a new and untested enterprise. There’s anything remarkable and uncomfortable about that. And Zuabi seems to really feel that much too.

“I feel this is as shut as I can imagine to theater now with no it feeling like a compromise,” he explained. “But if I’m becoming absolutely straightforward, I never know how it will experience when I am plopped in entrance of a pc seeing two folks interact dwell.”

“I need to tell you it is likely to be amazing and marvelous,” he additional with a laugh. “But it is an experiment.”


Tickets and particulars at americanrepertorytheater.org.