God’s Promise, a play by Ahmed Najar in collaboration with Laura Hope-Gill
Cockpit Theatre, September 16-18, 2021 www.cockpit.org.uk
Contact: Laura Hope-Gill, Producer
Cast: Ahmed Najar and Dafydd Gwyn Howells
Written and Directed by Ahmed Najar
An exciting collaboration between Palestinian playwright, Ahmed Najar, and Canadian-American writer, Laura Hope-Gill, the play brings to the stage the tension and tragedy of evictions of Palestinians from their homes by Jewish Settlers from the United States and Europe. The most recent rash of evictions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah drew global attention as protests were met by nearly two weeks of Israeli bombs that killed more than two hundred people in Gaza, nearly half of them children. With the full force of their own courts behind them, settlers funded by non-profit organizations from abroad nonchalantly seize homes for themselves, and with equal nonchalance kill or prompt the killing of Palestinians who lived there.
In the play, God’s Promise, Najar presents the dynamics of this devastating, and ongoing, violation. Mohammed faces the challenge of mapping a route from his house to his grandmother’s house to get to his grandmother to take her to her hospital appointment. Anywhere else, this would not be a challenge. For Mohammed, though the distance is not long, the destiny is almost certain because he knows that there is a settler waiting outside his home to claim it. This predictable situation in Palestine makes it nearly impossible for Mohammed to think about what ought to be a simple act of normality. The dilemma between losing his home and getting to his grandmother becomes irrelevant for him when he can see what could happen to him. Mohammed’s strong belief of his rights to carry on his life normally drives him to face his destiny several times. In the end Mohammed realises that no matter what he does and where he goes his destiny will come to him and that he has to be reborn again and again to change this destiny.
For Najar, who emigrated to London from Gaza in 2003, the stories are much closer to home. During the attacks in May, he lived every day unsure whether Israeli bombs would strike his family. And every day, even when Israel is not bombing his home-city, he hears of these evictions from friends and family. “This is the Palestinian story,” he says. “It is not one week that appears in the news. It is every day. Every year. All our lives.” Najar’s father was one year old when his family was forced from family land in 1948. Najar and his siblings were raised in one of eight refugee camps comprising Gaza. He says, “There is sentimental meaning to this play. It is not just that we have to be, or can be, reborn, but that this is a story that continues across the generations.” As Mohammed in God’s Promises experiences, the situation continues until the story can be changed.
The play will be performed live at Cockpit Theatre September 16-18 with social distance protocols in place. Doors open at 7 pm. A Q&A follows the presentation.