Israeli and Palestinian Fight Over House of Many Tongues, Opening in Toronto May 6

News   Israeli and Palestinian Fight Over House of Many Tongues, Opening in Toronto May 6
Jonathan Garfinkel's House of Many Tongues, a snapshot of the complexity of the modern Middle East, get its English-language premiere in a production opening May 6, after previews from April 29, at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.

Artistic director Richard Rose directs a cast that includes Hrant Alianak, Raoul Bhaneja, Fiona Highet, Howard Jerome, Daniel Karasik, Nikki Landau and Erin MacKinnon.

The new production represents rewrites since the play was seen in a German production. This is the North American premiere of the play.


According to the resident company known for new Canadian works, the play "is an exploration of a complex situation from a multitude of angles: the Israeli and the Palestinian, the old and the young, the scarred and the unspoiled, the real and the metaphorical. After a successful production in Germany, and plans for a translation into Hebrew, House of Many Tongues takes a long hard look at the absurdities, controversies and tragedies that comprise the history of the modern Middle East."

The creative team includes set and costume designer Teresa Przybylski, lighting designer Andrea Lundy, music and sound designer E. C. Woodley and stage manager Lindsay Marriner. In the play, according to Tarragon notes, "A former Israeli General, Shimon (Howard Jerome), tries to reconnect with his 15-year-old-son Alex (Daniel Karasik). Alex wants no part in his father's life. He's too busy trying to bring peace to the Middle East through improved sexual techniques. His theory: if the men of Israel and Palestine spent more time pleasuring women and less time fighting for political ideals (like his father), his world would be a much more peaceful place. When a Palestinian named Abu Dalo (Hrant Alianak) shows up, after a nearly 40-year absence, and lays claim to the General's house, things start to heat up. As the two men fight over the house and history, Alex continues his 'peace research' only to find the perfect opportunity for experimentation in Abu Dalo's estranged teenage daughter, Suha (Erin MacKinnon). Tensions mount, but somehow these four people are going to have to live together — if they don't kill each other first."

Garfinkel has written poetry ("Glass Psalms"), two earlier plays (The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret and Walking to Russia), and a non-fiction book, "Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide," which chronicles his journeys to Israel and West Bank, and his discovery of the real house in Jerusalem that inspired House of Many Tongues. He was the recipient of the KM Hunter Award for Theatre in 2008.

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