Raeda Taha (left) & Pablo Manzi (right)

Raeda Taha and Pablo Manzi: What are you working on now?

June 17, 2020

The School of the Arts’ annual International Play Reading Festival aims to present new theatrical voices to US audiences. Founded by Carol Becker and David Henry Hwang, this marquee event has brought playwrights from Chile, France, Indonesia, Palestine, Russia, and Spain to the Lenfest Center for the Arts for three days of readings and conversation about theatre and translation. We caught up with playwrights Raeda Taha and Pablo Manzi

Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali?, written by Raeda Taha, presented at the 2018 International Play Reading Festival.

School of the Arts: What are you working on now? 


Raeda Taha: I’m currently preparing for my new play, Aida and Golda. It is the story of Golda Meir, the Israeli politician and forth prime minister of Israel, and Aida Mansour, a Palestinian woman born in Jaffa before the 1948 Nakba. I hope this project will be completed by the end of this year.  


Pablo Manzi: Like the majority of people, most of my work is suspended. The last play I wrote, A Fight Against…, would have opened in May at the Royal Court Theatre in London. It was going to be directed by Sam Pritchard. On the other hand, I am working on the next show with BONOBO, the [theatre] collective that I work with in Chile. We are asking ourselves about democratic language, articulated through concepts like empathy, inclusion, protection, peace, and difference.

You Shall Love, written by Pablo Manzi, presented at the 2019 International Play Reading Festival

School of the Arts: What are you thinking about now? 


Raeda Taha: People have learned to adapt by instinct. There is a lot to accomplish in confinement, and this should be a privilege. My only concern is the economical and political consequences after the COVID-19 pandemic. The most positive aspect of this episode is nature’s liberation from the horrendous environmental crimes of humans.


Pablo Manzi: I’m thinking this is a moment of deep uncertainty; a good moment to say “I don’t know” and to be quiet. But at the same time, I have many questions. Some years ago I started thinking about modern bárbaros* — those who live outside of the polis. People who produce awkwardness, attraction, paternalism, fear, mystery, or anguish. The ways in which those characteristics manifest say a lot about the democratic “we.” What shapes are these Others taking during this time of the virus? 

*A reference to the play Donde viven los bárbaros, or, Where the Barbarians Live by BONOBO. 
Translation of Pablo Manzi’s responses by Cristóbal Pizzaro.
Photos by Michael Divito.