Play that explores perspectives on the Israel-Palestine conflict coming here Nov. 30

Play that explores perspectives on Israel-Palestine conflict coming here Nov. 30

“L’An: Four Jewish Characters in Search of Israel’s Future,” a play and discussion about peace-making that explores a range of perspectives on the Israel-Palestine conflict, will be performed at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The play, free and open to the public, is sponsored by St. Thomas’ University Lectures Committee. Tickets are not required.

The play runs about an hour, but the evening's program will run a little more than two hours. The program begins with light refreshments served in the auditorium’s atrium at 4:30 p.m. The play will run from 5 to 6 p.m.

Following the performance, audience members will be invited to participate in small discussion groups facilitated by the play’s cast members. Participants can ask questions and share viewpoints. After the discussions, audience members will reassemble for a closing session in the auditorium.

Sandy Pappas is one of the cast members of "L'An," a play and discussion about Israel and Palestine. Pappas also is a state senator from St. Paul.

As the title suggests, the play looks at the Israel-Palestine conflict through the eyes of four Jews who are traveling to Israel. Due to a terrorist threat, all four fall under suspicion and are detained by Israeli airport security.

The characters are Elan, an American Zionist who supports the policies of the Sharon government; Sarah, an Orthodox Israeli settler; Ariela, an American Jew who supports many of the tenets of Zionism while disagreeing with Israel’s approach toward Israeli and Palestinian Arabs; and Menachem, an Israeli eclectic who favors the eventual creation of a single Israeli-Palestinian state.

The title of the play, "L’An," in Hebrew is equivalent to the old English word, “whither,” or the contemporary English phrase, “where to.”

An early version of “L’An” was co-written by four local Jewish-Americans in the hope that the play might contribute to peace-making by examining how four individuals with sharply differing views on a sensitive topic might struggle to hear one another.

The play was first staged at Macalester College in 2001. The cast has changed, but the play continues to be performed at locations that include campuses, conferences and reform synagogues in the Twin Cities and Duluth. Most recently, a revised version of the play was performed at the 2005 Minneapolis Fringe Festival.

Current cast members are Ira L. Gordon, Benjamin Latz, state Sen. Sandy Pappas, Dylan Fresco and Michelle Schwantes, who have diverse religious affiliations and whose ages span five decades. They share the conviction that by honestly engaging with points of contention, respectful dialogue can generate new perspectives, insights and possibilities.

“L’An” is a production of Theater L’An, a Twin Cities-based group that has a loose affiliation with Progressive Jewish Voice, a nonprofit organization.

For more information about the play, call Jennifer Perusek, chair of the University Lectures Committee, (651) 962-6136.