Director’s Brief: That’s “Oslo.”

Director’s Brief: That’s “Oslo.”

by Karen Azenberg

I’m now casting and preparing for Oslo, the first show of our season.

I know, we just ended last season. And this is supposed to be our downtime. Well, first of all, there is no downtime. And second, continue reading.

 

Exactly one year ago today, I was in Jerusalem. It was a phenomenal trip, complete with visits to all of the famous sites and not-so-famous sites. I took this picture (above) from the Mount of Olives, looking into the Old City of Jerusalem. It was a bit of career foreshadowing to have had the opportunity to be in the very city that’s at the center of the play I would be directing a little over a year later. I might have guessed it, had I thought about it. Oslo had recently won the Tony for Best Play, and with a cast of 14 it’s of a size and scope that fits well with Pioneer’s stage and mission.

I’ve said before that, as Americans, it’s difficult for us to understand what it’s like to have angry and antagonistic relations with a neighboring country. OK, at least it was before the recent G7 fallout with Canada. But it’s difficult for most Americans to understand what it’s like to have a hostile neighboring country—a very few miles, or in many cases, yards away.

A visit to Jerusalem can help bring that experience into focus.

The play Oslo, like a visit to Jerusalem, gives a human face to a very big international-relations story—several human faces. We are asked to get to know our “enemy,” not from their ideology, but as a human. Can a good meal (and, let me tell you, the food in the Middle East is fabulous), but can a good meal, a good conversation, and love of family bring people together? That’s Oslo.