In writing a play about Israel and Palestine, May graduate Sharon Goldberg (04F) sought to break down barriers. The walls she hopes to dissolve are those between audience and actors, past and present, education and entertain-ment. Her desire to explore these ideas began before Hampshire and led to her choice to attend the college.
“I have unique interests and wanted to be supported in studying politically motivated theater,” she says.
In fall 2006, Goldberg was set to do field study in Israel in the northern town of Haifa, where she had briefly lived as a child with her fam-ily. An increase in violence and bombings between Israel and Lebanon forced Goldberg to change her plans. Instead, she went to Tel Aviv, where she took classes in Hebrew and Arabic. This change turned out to be fortuitous: Goldberg discovered and fell in love with Jaffa, a town just south of Tel Aviv. She worked as a stagehand with the Arab-Hebrew theater, a groundbreaking group tackling controversial issues in multiethnic productions. This field study laid the groundwork for Goldberg to delve into extensive research and writing as a Div III student.
“I wanted my play to be rooted in quality research,” she says. “Jaffa is one of the world’s oldest cities, about four thousand to five thou-sand years old. It has important social and political connections, as it was the only port into Palestine for a long time.”
The play’s story follows one similar to her own: An American woman goes to Tel Aviv, finds Jaffa, and sets out on a trail of discovery. In-terspersed, Goldberg explores the history and current political events in the area in a funny, self-satirizing style. She explains that the play is written specifically for American audiences, and, in the style of Brecht, tests the boundaries between audience and actors. In the same way that Jaffa served as a port for pilgrims coming to Palestine, her play serves as an entryway for Americans to discover another aspect of Israel and Palestine.
Goldberg has been awarded a 2008–2009 New Israel Fund Social Justice Fellowship and will spend ten months working with an Israeli NGO on social justice issues.
—Taliesin Nyala (07F)