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World Premiere "Sarah's War" Opens at the Hudson


Press/media contact: Philip Sokoloff, 626.683.9205


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: Previews Feb. 9 and 10. Gala Opening Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 8 p.m. Runs through Sunday, March 18. Thurs.- Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m.
ADMISSION: Regular performances- $30 preferred, $25 general; $12.50 students. Gala Opening- $40 preferred, $30 general; Previews $10.
RESERVATIONS: 310.657.5511

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Sarah's War is a fictional look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, suggested by the real-life experiences of the late American activist Rachel Corrie. When actor/director Alan Rickman first presented his theatrical version of Rachel's story My Name is Rachel Corrie, it was "postponed indefinitely" in New York due to a misconception that the play was anti-Israel.

Producer Jordan Elgrably suggests that Sarah's War may be less polarizing than previous dramatic treatments. Sarah's War includes Palestinian, Israeli and American perspectives, revealing humanity on all sides. Above all it is a drama about the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects an American family. The play includes an interfaith cast of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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. Yet Sarah sees herself as a peace activist and is determined to remain.

However, she's in a village where there are soldiers, tanks and militarized bulldozers nearby. When armies and civilians conflict, destiny is sometimes cruel....

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, Abica Dubay, Avner Garbi, Lindsey Ginter, Will Green, Marley McClean, Will Rothaar, Ayman Samman, Dina Simon and Allan Wasserman.

Co-producer: Sheana Ochoa. Production stage manager: Crystal Magallanes. 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. The company was named in honor of Juliano Mer-Khamis original Freedom Theater in Jenin, Palestine. 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."