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Silk Road Theatre Project Comes to Pomona College

On Wednesday, March 9, Pomona College will host the Silk Road Theatre Project of Chicago performing Precious Stones, a two actor-play that boldly examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the "safe" yet turbulent terrain of the American Diaspora.

Written by playwright Jamil Khoury, Precious Stones is the recipient of Gay Chicago Magazine’s 2003 After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. and be followed by a Q and A session with the playwright.

Set in Chicago in 1989, the story unfolds against a backdrop of disturbing images, as the first Palestinian intifadah rages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Two women, one Jewish, the other Palestinian, join forces to organize an Arab-Jewish dialogue group, only to find themselves falling in love. As they each cross "enemy lines," they stumble upon the disputed territories of sexuality and class. The political finally confronts the personal, as Andrea, the barely middle class Jewish lesbian, and Leila, the married, upper class Palestinian, discover new lines in the sand, once again raising the specter of difficult negotiations, painful compromises and distant resolution. The play is directed by Justin D.M. Palmer and features Heather Graff and Maja Wampuszyc.

Precious Stones illuminates for the audience the acute sense of pain, sadness and loss that characterizes Jewish and Palestinian lives. It reveals the narratives of persecution and suffering that prevent both peoples from moving beyond their troubled memories and toward a new narrative of peace and reconciliation. While consciously challenging American perceptions and stereotypes, Precious Stones is ultimately about exploring the symbiotic relationship that binds Arabs and Jews together. In dramatizing the fear, insecurity, anger, and hurt that permeate this complex relationship, the play uncovers the layers of familiarity, hope, kinship and eroticism that inevitably strengthen it.

Silk Road Theatre Project was created to showcase playwrights of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean backgrounds, whose works address themes relevant to the peoples of the Silk Road and their Diaspora communities. Maintaining that theatre should entertain as well as educate and promote critical thinking, they are committed to theatre that elevates human consciousness, expands representation, and challenges prevailing stereotypes.

The performance is open to the public, and there is no cost to attend. It will be held in the Pomona College, Thatcher Music Building, Lyman Auditorium (340 N. College Ave., Claremont). For more information, call (909) 607-2921 or (909) 621-8155.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.