Download Parts 1 and 2 of There is a Field from Radio Drama Revival
More on There is a Field: A Call to Action
More on Marie Tueje
Radio Drama Revival, 13-20 January 2012
There is a Field was written by Jen Marlowe to commemorate the events of "Black October" in 2000. As the second Intifada erupted in the West Bank and Gaza, unrest also broke out in Arab villages inside Israel. Twelve Palestinian citizens were killed by the Israeli security forces, including a seventeen-year-old boy named Aseel Asleh. The play looks at Aseel's life and death through the eyes of his elder sister Nardeen, while making more general observations on the daily struggles Palestinians face inside Israel.
In Marie Tueje's adaptation, Nardeen (Johanna Pestka) came across as a practical person, struggling to come to terms with her loss yet determined not to give in to her emotions. To do so would be futile; she needed to increase public awareness of the events of that fateful day, when the Israeli security forces fired shots on an unarmed crowd and shot her brother as he was trying to run away from them. The Israelis opened an enquiry, but predictably nothing came of it.
Nardeen's task was made that much more difficult by the fact that Israeli Palestians had little or no voice of their own in their society. Having been colonized by the Israelis, they were now subject to racist abuse on a daily basis, being told to "go back where they came from" - in other words, move to Gaza. Nor could they expect much protection from the authorities, who were the instruments of a government dedicated to cleansing their territory of all Palestinian citizens.
As Nardeen reflected on her future course of action, she recalled the past; how she grew up with Aseel (Benjamin Nathan Serio); how the two of them played together as children, fighting over various toys; and how Aseel grew up to be an intelligent, hard-working person, dedicated to the cause of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The inspiration for this had originated in a "Seeds of Peace" camp in the United States, in which young people from both communities worked together in an atmosphere of harmony and good fellowship. It was a sad irony that on the day he died, Aseel was wearing his "Seeds of Peace" T-shirt. Nardeen and Aseel were obviously close to one another; this was suggested in several short scenes, where the two of them communicated with one another by e-mail.
The play ended with Nardeen telling her brother to "take care," wherever he was, "until we meet in the field." This "field" would be an Elysian field, inhabited by gods, the righteous and the heroic, who remained there even after death. If Nardeen achieved her task of making people aware of the significance of her brother's death, she would definitely deserve to be there.
Tueje's production was simultaneously powerful yet emotionally charged, showing us how Aseel's death inspired others to take up the cause of Palestinian freedom in Israeli territory.