Controversial play about Gaza set for NY reading

Seven Jewish Children drew accusations of anti-Semitism during its London run last month.

seven jewish children play 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
seven jewish children play 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Seven Jewish Children, a new play that drew accusations of anti-Semitism during its London run last month, will be staged in New York next week as part of a panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The New York Theater Workshop will present three readings of the short play followed by discussions by panelists, including Israeli and Palestinian activists to be hosted by various moderators, among them playwright Tony Kushner, who wrote the screenplay for the 2005 film Munich, and theater critic Alisa Solomon. The play, billed as "a 10-minute history of Israel" told through parental dialogues, was written by Caryl Churchill, a British playwright and pro-Palestinian activist, in response to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The New York Theater Workshop production comes three years after it canceled a scheduled staging of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie, which commemorated the work of the International Solidarity Movement activist accidentally killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. Seven Jewish Children had its first New York reading on Monday night, the anniversary of Corrie's death, at the Brecht Forum, a Marxist activist organization. The event was held as a fund-raiser for Medical Aid to Palestine. Chicago's Rooms Productions held a reading of the play last week, and productions are scheduled for Washington as well - including one booked for Theater J at the Jewish Community Center, as part of its "Voices from a Changing Middle East" festival. Jewish leaders in Britain took out an ad in the Daily Telegraph calling the play "historically inaccurate" because of its characterization of the Six-Day War as an offensive operation and because it overlooked the effects of the rockets hitting southern Israel. Speaking about the play before its launch in January, Churchill said: "It came out of feeling strongly about what's happening in Gaza - it's a way of helping the people there. Israel has done lots of terrible things in the past, but what happened in Gaza seemed particularly extreme."