The Wheeler Centre
Writing in Exile: Samah Sabawi
Samah Sabawi at the Wheeler Centre
‘For Palestinian writers, we write for our lives,’ Samah Sabawi has written. ‘We write to exist.’
Sabawi is an award-winning playwright, author, essayist and poet. She’s also a policy advisor for Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka, and the second featured speaker in our PEN Writing in Exile series.
Sabawi's family left Palestine following Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip when she was a baby in 1967. She’s lived and worked across the globe throughout her life, but retains strong ties to the place of her birth. In Australia, she’s perhaps best known for her play, Tales of a City by the Sea, which won two Drama Victoria awards in 2016 and has also been rapturously received by audiences in Palestine, Canada and Malaysia. In the same year, the prolific Sabawi contributed to the anthology I Remember My Name, which received Middle East Monitor’s 2016 Palestine Book Award. Her most recent play, THEM, premieres later in May 2019 at the La Mama Courthouse.
Sabawi’s writing is concerned with displacement, conflict and diaspora. ‘Through writing our stories, our poems and songs,’ she has written, ‘we reconstruct our erased past, assert our present and try to shape our future.’ Appearing live at the Wheeler Centre, she talks to Sami Shah about writing for her life.
Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.
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Cafe Scheherazade on the Stage
Depiction of Queen Scheherazade telling her stories to King Shahryar in The Arabian Nights, via WikiCommons
Arnold Zable’s popular story collection Cafe Scheherazade has been adapted for the stage. The play, written by Therese Radic and directed by Bagryana Popov, brings to life the stories of migration and displacement that Zable has made it his life’s work to document.
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The radio play may have fallen on hard times, but interest in the form hasn’t disappeared altogether. Perhaps that’s because some writers are excited by the potential of a drama delivered entirely in sound. Curiously, the origins of the form stretch much further back than the radio. The first writer to create drama entirely for sound was Seneca the Younger, a philosopher, statesman, dramatist…
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