A new one-man play, staged to mark the 69th anniversary of the Nakba and 50 years of occupation, brought Gaza, Ramallah and Yarmouk refugee camp to the heart of London.
By Christa Blackmon
A 12-year old boy escaping from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus is left alone to sort out the quirks of his biology in an overcrowded raft headed for Europe. A vain yet independent girl struggles with her father’s rules and her first taste of sexual love. A shallow 20-year-old taxi driver is desperate to get laid despite the watchful eye of Hamas. And a vibrant actor living in Haifa yearns for his dream role where he doesn’t get shot.
These stories of passion, hope, longing, and crushing injustices are given the spotlight in Camouflage, a new one-man play written by director and academic Ahmed Masoud, and starring British-Egyptian actor James El-Sharawy. The show ran for one night only in Amnesty International’s London headquarters to mark both the 69th anniversary of the Nakba and 50 years since the occupation began.
Standing against one of the simple panel backdrops, with a handful of props and few sound effects, it is El-Sharawy’s physicality and the fluctuations of his voice that carry the action forward. Flipping his accents, pitch, and movements for each character, El-Sharawy plays not only the role of storyteller, but also a number of other characters within the story itself. As 17-year-old Nibal, he adopts flirty feminine gestures but must also communicate her terror when he embodies an Israeli soldier that taunts her with cigarette smoke. He is the taxi driver Zeid, as well as an intimidating Hamas officer, an alluring widow on a date, and a rather lonely grandmother.
The stories are separate from each other, not only spatially but in their content. What connects them is their characters’ struggle to live their awkward youthful experiences in spite of war. El-Sharawy brings them all together in a dramatic pantomime at the end where the movements from one story give way to those of another, each character acting out their own version of camouflage: Thaer and his friend as scarecrows running to the border, Nibal and her bikini lounging by her pool trying to forget the occupation outside her home, Zeid and his desperate attempts to look cool on Tinder, and Sami sneaking into an Israeli nightclub before his Palestinian dance moves give him away....Read More