What happens when a Canadian Jewish woman and a Palestinian Muslim woman learn about common threads weaving between their lives?
The answer will be revealed at a new theatre production playing at the Theatre Centre from May 3-13. Two Birds One Stone is written by Natasha Greenblatt and Rimah Jabr, who met in 2013 in Toronto. They also both star in the two-hander.
Greenblatt, a Toronto actor and playwright, had recently written about Israel and the Middle East in The Peace Maker, and a friend of hers thought she should meet Jabr, a playwright whose work has been staged in Belgium and the Netherlands.
“After that first meeting over coffee, we became friends,” says Greenblatt between rehearsals. “And after exchanging our writing with each other, we thought, ‘Hey, let’s write something together!’”
What came out of that collaboration is an excavation of their unknown shared histories. Greenblatt says, “This isn’t about Israel and Palestine. [It’s] more about a Canadian Jewish person and a Palestinian Muslim, and their relationship with their history, and our relationship with the West Bank.”
Greenblatt, 32, spent time in Nablus after her Birthright Israel trip seven years ago and, through that visit, re-examined her beliefs on Israel and the Israeli occupation. Without giving too much away about the play, Greenblatt adds going to Israel was also part of a self-actualization process: “I thought that maybe I needed to go to Israel to see what that’s about, instead of dealing with some things at home.”
The two playwrights wanted to ensure humour played a role in the work, despite the complex themes they would be tackling. “Plays without humour are tough to sit through,” says Greenblatt, “and we would lose our minds if we didn’t add some comedy to Two Birds One Stone.”
When the curtain closes, Greenblatt says she wants the audience to be left thinking about their histories and connections to the way people move around the world and how that’s affected them.
Up next for Greenblatt after this production is a project she’s writing about the 2015 Canadian federal election, exploring it from volunteers’ viewpoints. That project is scheduled to be presented by Common Boots Theatre in 2018.
Two Birds One Stone is part of Why Not Theatre’s Riser Project 2017. It runs
May 3-13 at the Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. W. Tickets via tickets.theatrecentre.org