For two years, award-winning Israeli playwright Motti Lerner and his two Iranian colleagues, both exiles living in the US, worked on the script. This past weekend Benedictus had its premiere at the Goldenthread Theater in San Francisco and on October 21 will move to the prestigious Los Angeles Theater Center.
Benedictus is Latin for blessed, an ironic title for a drama about a deal that goes wrong. The place is a Benedictine monastery in Rome, just prior to a US attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. An Iranian-born Israeli arms dealer (Israeli Ali Poutash) wants to get his sister and her family out of Teheran. He suggests a deal to an Iranian boyhood friend (Egyptian Al Pharis), but what the Iranian wants is an agreement with the US to postpone the ultimatum. The US ambassador (Earl Kingston) for his part wants to broker a regime change. Unhappily, nobody is really listening to anybody else.
Lerner, 57, is a very political dramatist and screenwriter. His plays locally include Kastner, Pollard, and Pangs of the Messiah. The latter play deals with settlers leaving their homes in the West Bank after a peace settlement, and was given its English language premiere in Washington DC last June. The Murder of Isaac, a drama about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, premiered in Germany in 1999, and his film Spring 1941 was filmed last summer in Poland.