"Sarah's War" press release (extended!)

CONTACT PHILIP SOKOLOFFPublicity for the theatre 626.683-9205 e-mail: showbizphil@sbcglobal.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            March 14, 2012


WHAT: “Sarah’s War.” World Premiere engagement of a new play.

WHO: Written by Valerie Dillman. Directed by Matt McKenzie. Produced by Jordan Elgrably for Freedom Theatre West. Executive producer: Amani Jabsheh.

WHERE: Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038.

WHEN: NOW through April 15, 2012.  Fri/Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m.

ADMISSION: Regular performances- $30 preferred, $25 general. RESERVATIONS: 310.657-5511. ONLINE TICKETING: www.Plays411.net/sarahswarwww.levantinecenter.org

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L.A. Weekly Pick of the Week. Back Stage Critic’s Pick.

“Sarah’s War” is a fictional look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, inspired by the real-life experiences of the late American activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza on March 16, 2003. Corrie is viewed as an icon in the peace movement and is considered a martyr to many in the Arab world. “Sarah’s War,” however, includes Palestinian, Israeli and American perspectives, revealing humanity on all sides.

“Refusing to frame the conflict in terms of heroes and villains,” writes Philip Brandes in the Los Angeles Times, “Dillman's play reminds us that although it's easy to pass judgment from halfway around the world, understanding is much harder to come by.”

Sarah is an idealistic 23-year-old American woman who decides to join members of the International Solidarity Movement in Palestinian Territories under Israeli military occupation, much to the consternation of her Jewish uncle, to whom she initially appeals for support. He doesn’t want her to potentially put herself in harm’s way. It’s pointed out to her that there are plenty of worthwhile things that need to be done right in her own backyard.

It’s rough going for her once she arrives in the Middle East. There are Arabs who suspect her of being a spy, while some Israelis regard her as a terrorist sympathizer. But she sees herself as a peace activist and is determined to remain.

“Sarah’s War” has a mixed cast of Arabs, Jews and mainstream American actors, yet the play focuses less on the bulldozer incident and more on the effect Sarah’s decisions and her death have on her family members.

During its initial 6-week run, the role of “Sarah” has been performed by Abica Dubay.  In its 4-week extension, Halle Hirsh takes over the role of “Sarah,” while Kate Mines fills the role of "Caitlin" previously played by Marley McClean.

Valerie Dillman is the playwright. A co-founder of the Pacific Resident Theatre’s writers group, her previous plays include “Hedda Lives” and “First Lady.” She also wrote and directed a short film, “Fascinating,” and is working on a web series, “Wake Up, America!,” which takes a satirical look at the morning news.

Matt McKenzie directs “Sarah’s War.” He previously directed “The Time of Your Life” at Pacific Resident Theatre. He has worked at theatres around the country as a fight choreographer.  Also an actor, he’s appeared in theatres across the country. He performed in recurring roles on the hit TV series “Mad Men” and “24,” and portrayed Colin Clive in the feature film “Gods and Monsters.”

The cast of “Sarah’s War” includes, in alphabetical order, Adria Tennor Blotta, Ann Bronston, Terry Davis, Avner Garbi, Lindsey Ginter, Will Green, Halle Hirsh, Kate Mines, Will Rothaar, Ayman Samman, Dina Simon and Allan Wasserman. Understudies include Michael Hanson, Ryan Martin, Amro Salama and Susan Wilder.

Co-producer: Sheana Ochoa. Production stage manager: Crystal Magallanes, assistant stage manager Tamer Batayneh. Projections: Keith Stevenson. Lighting design: William Wilday. Sound design: Alex Enberg. Costume design: Cara Giannini.

Producer Jordan Elgrably is the founding director of Levantine Cultural Center, which celebrates the diverse cultures of the Middle East and North Africa by presenting arts and educational programs that bridge political and religious divides.

“Sarah’s War” is the inaugural production of Freedom Theatre West, the first theatre company in Southern California to focus on the Middle East and North Africa. As Elgrably notes, “Freedom Theatre West seeks to present plays and represent artists from Israel to Iran—something that is not only not done anywhere else, but is considered impossible by most people.”