In Between Explores Cultural Identity of Palestinian Israeli Artist
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2012 18:10
The one-man show In Between by Ibrahim Miari, a Palestinian-Israeli theater artist, opened at the Hallie Flanagan Theater in the Mendenhall Center on Oct. 22. The play, previously featured at locations including M.I.T., Tufts University and the Leeds International Jewish Arts Festival 2010, borrows themes and stories from Miari’s own experiences growing up in Israel with a mixed Jewish and Muslim background. The play opens with the support of the Theater Department and the Jewish Studies program at Smith.
Miari, who currently teaches Arabic and Hebrew, where he also lectures in modern languages and comparative literature, at Boston University. Miari is the son of an Israeli-Jewish mother and Palestinian Muslim father. Already he is a rare statistic, as the Israeli Parliament estimates that there are only 20,000 of these intermarriages, in a country of 7.5 million people. His play aims to expose the complexities and contradictions implicit in a Palestinian-Israeli identity. Directed by Elena Araoz, a stage director of opera and theater and an actress, In Between interweaves vignettes and different characters from Miari’s childhood spent in Israel’s western Galilee. Throughout the duration of the play, he encounters an interrogation by Israeli airport security and recalls his memories of his Jewish and Palestinian grandmothers, his childhood and war. His own understanding of his identity becomes more confused when he finds a Jewish American woman he wants to marry. The one-man show works to interweave his love-story with his soon-to-be wife, with the love story of his parents, alongside his memories of growing up in both Israeli and Palestinian communities.
In Between touches on the difficulties of growing up with a mixed ethnic background, only further complicated by the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine. He recounts childhood memories, like being called Ibrahim while a student at Arab schools, or Avram, while at Jewish schools. One of the on-going themes of the play is that Miari consistently feels he does not measure up to society’s views; he does not feel Israeli enough because he’s Muslim and he does not feel Arab enough because he’s Jewish.
“Miari is well-suited to explore the complexities of a mixed identity. He is enriched rather than impoverished by what was not too long ago still shunned as miscegenation,” said Michael Zank, a professor of religion and acting director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University, where the play was previously performed.
Miari went on to study at Western Galilee College and Boston University. He has a long and diverse career in theater and the arts, from performing in one-man shows, commercials and films to performing as a Sufi dancer with Acco Theater Center’s Sufi dance show, Prayer. Since 2005, he has directed a drama program at peace camps, working with Israeli and Palestinian high school students.
The play sprang to life as part of his thesis project at Boston University’s drama school. The play’s length usually depends on his mood and the audience’s reactions.
In-Between has received positive reviews from different venues where it has been performed. Michelle Nhuch, the director of Public Programs Center for International Studies at M.I.T. said “ “In-Between” is educational, riveting, and provoking…with deft and charm, he transcends todays political distractions and reminds us of the deeper inner struggles that link all of humanity.”