By Jude Haddad
At a time when political and social turmoil is increasing globally, “I Am Yusuf and This is My Brother” can directly relate to many current issues as well as connect with a large audience.
This play is set during the 1948 war between Palestine and Israel, specifically mentioning the Palestinian exodus. The exodus, which is also known as the Nakba in Arabic (translates to catastrophe or disaster), displaced thousands of Palestinians and expelled them from their homes during the war. It is written by playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi; who was brought up in Nazareth, a city in Israel with a high population of Palestinians.
After a successful show time, both in London’s Young Vic Theatre and in Kilachand Theatre and Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, the play is coming to our very own DAA stage. Mr. Padraig Downey was the director of the play during its first run time in Dubai in 2015. His decision to bring the play to DAA was encouraged by Mr. Schaffner due to the large Arab population at DAA. Downey says that, “for a play that is not very well known; I felt like this has connected with a lot of people…We have so many Arab students in this school and really we’ve always done Western-based plays so it was really exciting to do a Palestinian/Arab play.”
The play has a minimalistic setting and little-to-no use of props. Assistant Director, Junior Sasha Malhotra says that, “In order to convey the story more accurately, we have stripped down the set to be more simplistic. Through doing so, there is an emphasis not only on the acting, but also on the effect the war had on the citizens of Palestine at a time when their country was going through turmoil.”
Junior Andrew Riad has been in multiple DAA plays and musicals in the past. In this production, he plays Yusuf, Ali’s younger brother. He says that, “This has been the hardest role for me to play because he [Yusuf] is not an over-the-top musical character. It would be very superficial of me to just go for the cheap acting and be extravagant. It is more meaningful to be subtle and take it all in when portraying Yusuf.”
Along with experienced members, there are many DAA students that are new to the stage. “This being my first time in a DAA production, I have to say I’m enjoying it immensely. It is a very rewarding process, watching a story so true to everyone involved hearts’, come to life on stage,” says Junior Ghayas Osseiran who plays Ali, one of the main roles in the play. To Assistant Director Pranidhi Bisht, the multiple new students is an asset to the play, not a setback. She says that she is, “incredibly proud of how far they’ve come; our rehearsals get stronger each day.” Assistant Director Pranidhi Bisht (grade 11)
“I Am Yusuf” connects to many students at DAA, especially the Middle Eastern ones whose home countries have gone through similar situations. Junior Sara Wali speaks about this experience saying, “As Arabs we could say that we grew up listening to stories about the situation in Palestine. Through embodying our characters we are able to express the profound emotions many have towards this issue.”
The cast and crew are all immensely passionate about this production, so make sure to come out and experience the emotions and stories firsthand. The show opens on the 20 November 2016 at 3:30 in the afternoon. The showtimes include:
Nov. 20: 3:30 pm
Nov. 21: 7:30 pm
Nov. 28: 3:30 pm
Tickets are 20 Dhs and are available from the HS and MS school offices.