Of Stars and Crescents

When Ms. Hunnisett first asked me to write a play for One Act this year, I must confess that I was rather daunted. The weight of having been given the honour of doing something as great, as important, as life-changing as this struck me, and from that point on, my mind suffered from bursting at the seams, full of phantom ideas and unfleshed characters desperately gasping for the stage air and the chance to be in the limelight. After two drafts, a poetry seminar, and two months of consideration, I abandoned the romance stories I had wanted to write (sorry Bonnie, sorry Clyde!) and settled on a love story between two friends – nay, between two brothers – an Arab and a Jew, caught in the crossfire during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is, however, a love story of a different kind – it is of the love between friends, the love that forms the fellowship of comrades and the strength of brothers. This is the love I have tried to respect in the writing of this play. Of course, as of this moment, this play still has many imperfections and needs some work…but it is something I look forward to improving!

In regards to that poetry seminar, there was something about that afternoon, something about the words said and the ideas expressed that touched my heart. There was something about that afternoon that compelled my heart to stretch out its hands and explore a world where the whispers of ancient olive trees and the sounds of modern warfare still strive to be heard against the growing indifference of a confused and hurting world. This play was a child of that December afternoon, and with it came the promise to face our world’s indifference in its own little way.

It is also said that the things we know, and the work that we do, is nothing but the result of us standing on the shoulders of giants. This work – and all that it stands for – wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of my AP classmates, the shoulders of whom I continue to stand upon. This work brims with their ideas, their thoughts, and their hopes. In it, one may find the echoes of the musings and AHA moments I have grown to love, and this is why I dedicate this play not only to the children of Israel and Palestine, but also to my AP class, whom I have grown to love so much. In them, I have found a family. Thus, I maintain that this play – regardless of whether or not it goes on stage – is not my legacy, but theirs. This piece is their legacy.

And to my AP class: for the two years of trekking through the jungle that is AP (as well as for the two years of torture under Ms. Hunnisett), I want to say thanks. I couldn’t have done it without any of you. I love you guys!

Most of these people truly desire
To harvest their olive trees
As they have for hundreds of years.
Most of these people truly desire to raise their kids
Not to throw stones
Or Molotov cocktails,
But to study in peace,
To play in peace,
And to raise a flag.
Their own flag.
And facing that flag, to cry
As we did, that night, then, excited as we were.
And we have no, have no, have no
Right in the world
To rob them of this desire.
This flag,
These tears.
These tears, which always, always
Come after all the others.

            – from “We Shoot Children Too, Don’t We” by Dan Almagor



Scene 1

[Darkness envelops the stage. Fog rolls in, lending the atmosphere a sense of gloom and despair. The lights, dark red like congealed blood, fade in, dimly, to reveal a haunting scene: SANDER is seated on the floor, with his head down and eyes closed; stretched out on his lap, limp and lifeless, is SAHEIM. Behind them, shrouded in shadow, is a lone olive tree. Its silhouette against the dimly lit cyclorama – perhaps a blood-red sky – gives it the air of an angel of death, its wings spread out as if to shelter the two lost mortals on the ground, trapping them in a barren landscape reeking of death.]

SANDER    (whispering into SAHEIM’s ears) La ilaha illa Allah.

[Silence. SANDER opens his eyes slowly and levels his head, staring directly ahead. The sounds of the adhan – the Muslim call to prayer – begins to dance behind the silence, barely audible.]

SANDER    (a little louder, muttering continuously) La ilaha illa Allah…Allah…Allah…

[As the adhan gets louder, the lights increase in brightness and SAHEIM’s lifeless body begins to rise. Sitting up straight, he turns his head towards the audience, eyes also staring directly ahead. SANDER’s whispers also increase in volume, forming an atmosphere almost laden with irony and chaos – God’s name, repeated over and over.]

SAHEIM    (hauntingly) Allah.

SANDER    (shouting, suddenly) Adonai!

[At SANDER’s cry, the lights shift harshly to a light yellow – the colour of late morning. The adhan also stops abruptly, the chaos of the nightmare suddenly coming to a jarring halt.]

[SANDER and SAHEIM are now separated, though still side-by-side, and each breathing heavily, disoriented and reeling from what seemed to be a nightmare.]

SANDER    (breathlessly) Adonai…

[Both SANDER and SAHEIM, sitting up, place their elbows on their knees and cover their faces completely with their hands, clearly troubled. After a brief moment, they both turn towards the wings of the stage – now sitting back to back – and look up.]

BOTH        Dreams are nothing but the fragments of thought.

SANDER    Leftovers.

SAHEIM    Remains.

BOTH        Recycled material.

SANDER    Recycled ideas.

SAHEIM    Recycled emotions.

SANDER    Recycled musings.

BOTH        Recycled moments. [Beat] Or so they say.

SAHEIM    Yet, like the dreams of the prophets of old…

SANDER    We dared to hope they could be something more.

BOTH        But hope is a dangerous thing.

SANDER    Upon Jacob’s ladder, stretching our arms, we climbed

SAHEIM    and like Yusuf, saw the sun, the moon, and the stars bow down before us

BOTH        Prostrate at our feet!

SANDER    It was foolish of us to think we could’ve changed anything.

SAHEIM    Foolish to even try.

SANDER    Masters of our own world

BOTH        We thought

SAHEIM    Foolishly wishing

SANDER    Stupidly dreaming

BOTH        Desperately, dangerously hoping

SAHEIM    for a change…in a world of monsters

SANDER    and ghosts.

SAHEIM    Barren deserts

SANDER    and dead olive trees.


SANDER    and chaos.

BOTH        War and chaos…Some things never change.


SAHEIM    But was it foolish of us to think we could build an empire on a dream?

SANDER    Dreaming of cities without walls

SAHEIM    and villages without fences

BOTH        was it too much to dare, to hope, to want?


SANDER    They say that most dreams today are made of nothing but the troubles of our mind, the thoughts, those little moments, the survivors of a long day’s worth of thinking.

SAHEIM    They say that only those dreams we will get when the world’s about to end are the ones most true.

BOTH        But how do you know it’s not your world already coming to an end?

Scene 2

[Lights shift to the colours of a golden afternoon. A school bell rings, signalling the end of classes – it is not the shrill, alarming sound of an electric school bell, but the rich, almost calming, chimes of a gong. SANDER and SAHEIM are in different schools, which is signified by an obvious divide.]

BOTH        On most days you can’t wait for school to end.

SANDER    Those long, boring lectures.

SAHEIM    Those questions you can’t even answer.

SANDER    Paper upon paper

SAHEIM    Notes upon notes.

BOTH        The teacher’s droning voice, dragging on and on and on…for hours on end.

SANDER    Nothing but Hebrew

SAHEIM    and Arabic

SANDER    Hebrew

SAHEIM    and Arabic

[The following two lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    Enough Hebrew to make your ears bleed out alephs and bets for  hours afterwards.
SAHEIM    Enough Arabic to make your ears bleed out alifs and baas for hours afterwards.

BOTH        As if you don’t already hear enough at home.

SANDER    Abba saying this.

SAHEIM    Baba always saying that.

[The following lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    Ima shouting over this, my little sister crying over that.
SAHEIM    Mama crying over this, my older brother shouting over that.

BOTH        And I wonder

SANDER    why within the walls of our own home, we took a piece of the world with us.

SAHEIM    As if our troubles outside…

SANDER    outside…

BOTH        weren’t enough.

[The following two lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    ‘Down with Palestine!’
SAHEIM    ‘Down with Israel!’

BOTH        Over and over.

SANDER    The neighbours whispering to each other.

SAHEIM    My classmates jeering and spitting.

SANDER    The way Abba scoffed at the breakfast table, eyes glued to a newspaper.

SAHEIM    The fear in Mama’s eyes when she spoke of those soldiers.

SANDER    Those beatings

SAHEIM    Those killings

SANDER    Rock-throwing

SAHEIM    Those shootings (perhaps accompanied by faint sounds of gunshots and screams)

SANDER    Deportations

SAHEIM    Demolitions

BOTH        Detentions without trial

SANDER    ‘They will stone you to death.’

SAHEIM    ‘They will cut down your trees.’

SANDER    ‘They will take away your fields.’

SAHEIM    ‘They will take away your homes.’

SANDER    ‘They will kill your family.’

SAHEIM    ‘They will kill your faith.’

BOTH        ‘They will steal away your very lives.’


BOTH        Yes, how could I ignore the other colours hoisted upon our rooftops?

SANDER    The black, white, red, and green imposed on our Promised Land?

SAHEIM    The white and blue star glaring proudly above us, daring to take away everything that we love?

[The following two lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    “Down with Palestine!”
SAHEIM    “Down with Israel!”

SAHEIM    Fight for the crescent.

SANDER    Defend the star.

BOTH        Fight and defend – that’s what they say…and all I wanted…was to run from it.

SAHEIM    They call this life.

SANDER    They call this love?

BOTH        They call this home.


BOTH        In a world spinning out of control

SAHEIM    There isn’t enough time to catch your breath.

SANDER    We must run faster.

SAHEIM    Stronger.

SANDER    Farther.

BOTH        Better than the other.

SANDER    Trying our best

BOTH        to outrun the screaming of a world gone mad. How stupid we were, thinking that the only language we wanted to hear was the sound of our own breath.

SAHEIM    Stupid.

SANDER    Stupid.

SAHEIM    Stooping low, I creep behind the walls of the school courtyard

SANDER    Past the other boys smoking in the corner.

SAHEIM    Behind the teachers rushing by.

SANDER    Down the hill

SAHEIM    Through the field

BOTH        And by the river…

SANDER    I can taste the freedom on the tip of my tongue.

SAHEIM    Feel the freedom in the wind that brushes through my hair.

BOTH        Glimpses of freedom from a lost childhood, robbed from me by war and chaos…Was it really only two years ago

SANDER    before the stones

SAHEIM    and the guns

SANDER    the bombs

SAHEIM    the soldiers

BOTH        the mines – the fear

SAHEIM    when I could spend my days swimming in the River Jordan

SANDER    and my nights in the fields, sleeping under the light of the stars

BOTH        In the shade of the olive tree

SAHEIM    Unafraid

SANDER    Unhindered

BOTH        Free

SAHEIM    To glide

SANDER    To jump

SAHEIM    To splash

SANDER    To roll

SAHEIM    To run

SANDER    and run

SAHEIM    and run

BOTH        Running into the embrace of a golden afternoon.

[A warm golden yellow washes over the faces of SANDER and SAHEIM. For a brief moment, they close their eyes, savouring the warm breath of the sun on their face and smiling in the way only the youth can – unrestrained and free once again, they experience a brief moment of bliss as a content calm descends upon the stage.]

[Light begins to shift. It is now the early evening – stars begin to appear, painting the heavens with little freckles; the night comes alive.]

BOTH        Time passes quickly.

SAHEIM    It’s funny how time passes so quickly.

SANDER    These fragments of eternity drop into our hands and slip past our fingers way before we even realize we had them.

SAHEIM    Before you know it, you can see the crescent moon peeking from behind the silver ring of clouds

SANDER    And the six-pointed stars dotting the vast blackness of the sky, crowning the heavens

BOTH        with the most brilliant of diamonds. (Beat) If only the sky rained diamonds…

SAHEIM    If it did…

SANDER    If it did…

BOTH        I would run away from here, and never come back.

SANDER    Far…

SAHEIM    Far away from here.

BOTH        God must be lucky to have the stars so close to his reach.

SANDER    …but the closest thing I have to a star is…this…flashlight.

[As he says the line, SANDER fumbles in his bag – a sling bag, draped across his body – looking for a flashlight. When he turns it on, he sees SAHEIM, directly in front of him. Surprised and alarmed, SANDER drops the flashlight and the light that briefly shone on SAHEIM’s face is gone, far too quickly for SANDER to have seen, or even realized, SAHEIM’s identity. SANDER, after a brief moment of disorientation, falls to the ground, looking for his flashlight. SAHEIM does the same a few moments after.]

BOTH        (gasps, with SANDER dropping the flashlight)…

[SANDER suddenly falls on his knees, frantically looking for the flashlight – the light has been turned off and, despite the light of the stars and the moon, the darkness makes it too difficult to see anything clearly.]

SAHEIM    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… (SAHEIM goes on his knees, looking for the flashlight along with SANDER)I am so sorry, I really didn’t mean any harm…

SANDER    No, please, you don’t have to…

SAHEIM    Oh, I got it. Here.

[At this point, SAHEIM finds the flashlight and gives it to SANDER. SANDER turns it on. Now, in the full brilliance of the flashlight, SANDER can see SAHEIM’s face more clearly. He is not what he expects – he is a Palestinian Arab! For a few moments, they stare at each other. Brown eyes, olive skin, they absorb their similarities, but their differences ground them.]


SAHEIM    You’re…

SANDER    I’m…

SAHEIM    I didn’t…

BOTH        I thought…I’m sorry. (Together, almost awkwardly) It’s okay!

[SANDER and SAHEIM share a few moments of uncomfortable laughter, very quietly. Then a few moments of silence.]

SAHEIM    I should be going… (SAHEIM, shying his face away from SANDER’s, tries to walk past him)

SANDER    Wait, please wait. (SAHEIM tries to walk past SANDER, who gently places a hand on SAHEIM’s shoulder. With the other hand, he raises the flashlight slightly, as if to indicate that he’s referring to it)…Thanks.

[Without fully facing SANDER, SAHEIM smiles shyly towards the ground. Afterwards, he breaks free from SANDER’s grasp and walks hurriedly away.]

[Exit SAHEIM.]

[For a brief moment, SANDER continues looking at the direction of SAHEIM’s exit. Afterwards, his attention is drawn to something glimmering on the ground. Lying on the soil, blanketed with dust, is a red misbaha – Muslim prayer beads. Curious, SANDER picks it up, looks at it, then gazes once more towards the direction of where SAHEIM was.]

SANDER    Strange…

Scene 3

[Lights shift – the stars disappear, replaced by a glow reminiscent of night lights. SANDER is in his room, pondering deeply upon the night’s strange events. He is thinking most of all about the stranger.]

SANDER    It’s strange what often happens when a person comes into your life for the first time.

BOTH        (Enter SAHEIM, joining in unison with SANDER) It’s strange what just one person can do to you.

SAHEIM    How a life can hinge on

BOTH        (emphatically) one chance encounter.

SANDER    At first

SAHEIM    they are nothing but a smile

SANDER    a friendly face in a crowd

SAHEIM    a shoulder you bump in the street

SANDER    But in a world of millions

SAHEIM    and millions

SANDER    billions!

BOTH        of people

SAHEIM    Could it be fate?

SANDER    It might be a prayer

SAHEIM    or a wish

BOTH        that allows the paths of two lives to come together.

SANDER    Two lives

SAHEIM    Two paths

BOTH        One moment in time.


[The following lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    Could it really be true? What Abba and Ima says about them?
SAHEIM    Could it really be true? What Baba and Mama says about them?

SANDER    ‘They will stone you to death.’

SAHEIM    ‘They will cut down your trees.’

SANDER    ‘They will take away your fields.’

SAHEIM    ‘They will take away your homes.’

SANDER    ‘They will kill your family.’

SAHEIM    ‘They will kill your faith.’

BOTH        ‘They will steal away your very lives’ [Beat.] Can they steal hearts, too?

SANDER    Like Jonathan and King David.

SAHEIM    Abu Bakr and the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

SANDER    Khaver.

SAHEIM    Khaleel.

BOTH        Friends…Is it too much to hope?

SANDER    That night.

SAHEIM    That night.

SANDER    I spent

BOTH        that night

SAHEIM    tossing

SANDER    turning

SAHEIM    tossing

SANDER    turning

SAHEIM    I spent that night

BOTH        tossing and turning, his face in my mind.

SANDER    His olive skin.

SAHEIM    His chestnut eyes.

BOTH        Just like mine.

SANDER    Can we really be that different?

SAHEIM    Tossing

SANDER    Turning

BOTH        Thinking of the first time we met

SANDER    A beat in time.

SAHEIM    Frozen.

BOTH        By the olive tree.

SANDER    That first glance.

SAHEIM    That first look.

BOTH        That first light.

SAHEIM    By the light of the moon

SANDER    and the stars

BOTH        and the light of that light.

SAHEIM    It blinds me.

SANDER    Restless.

BOTH        That night.

SAHEIM    More tossing.

SANDER    More turning.

BOTH        More tossing and turning, his face in my mind.

SAHEIM    And I wonder.

BOTH        If his hand

SANDER    was ever outreached in friendship

SAHEIM    or held a gun outstretched

BOTH        Can he take me away from here?

SANDER    From the hatred

SAHEIM    and the conflict

BOTH        They’re not who some say they are…Or is he just another rock

SANDER    stone

SAHEIM    bullet

SANDER    bomb

BOTH        mine waiting to happen? [Beat.] I can’t

[The following lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    stop it.
SAHEIM    leave it alone.

BOTH        He must hate me…I can’t explain how I feel.

SANDER    Where’s the pain?

SAHEIM    Where’s the hurt?

BOTH        Where’s the hate? I don’t think I hate him.

SAHEIM    He confuses me.

SANDER    He perplexes.

BOTH        This can’t go on forever.

SANDER    Not forever.

SAHEIM    Just forever…

BOTH        for a while.

SAHEIM    So I begged.

SANDER    That night.

SAHEIM    That night.

BOTH        How I begged that night.

SANDER    Adonai!
SAHEIM    Allah!

SANDER    How I begged…

SAHEIM    God, please…

SANDER    Oh God…

BOTH        Shield him.

SAHEIM    Just another nameless face.

SANDER    Just another…

BOTH        random stranger.

SAHEIM    With the face of a friend.

SANDER    Yes, the face of a friend.

BOTH        Is it the face of a foe or a friend?

SAHEIM    Defend him.

SANDER    Preserve him.

BOTH        Keep him away.

SAHEIM    From danger.

SANDER    From violence.

BOTH        From war and chaos.

SAHEIM    Allah, keep him safe!
SANDER    Adonai, keep him safe!

SAHEIM    In this place…

BOTH        And wherever he sleeps tonight.

SANDER    On this night…

SAHEIM    And on every night…

BOTH        This night…and every night.

[The following lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    (almost a whisper) Amen.
SAHEIM    (almost a whisper) Ameen.

Scene 4

[Lights slowly shift from dark to light, the glow of the sun – liquid sunbeams – gradually percolating the night’s soiled mask. As the sun rises – more symbolically than literally, as it should signify the sunset – SAHEIM begins to sing “The House of the Rising Sun” while strumming on his ukulele, sitting under the shadow of the olive tree. Raw in its appeal of the American Dream, yet powerfully dark in the simplicity of its melancholy lyrics, the song represents an escape from the night shrouding the lands of Palestine and Israel. Despite the despair and hopelessness of the lyrics, the promise of the sun in New Orleans – ironically nicknamed “The Crescent City” – in a city also nicknamed the “The City That Care Forgot” fills SAHEIM with hope of a world without trouble, without fear, without despair. The scene takes place by the olive tree under the sun of a golden afternoon.]

SAHEIM    (softly singing, strumming the ukulele)
There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I’m one

SANDER    (suddenly, surprising SAHEIM) I like that song, too. [Beat.] Sorry, I thought I’d find you here.

SAHEIM    (smiling) Merhaba.

SANDER    Shalom. (After a brief moment) I think I have something that belongs to you.

[SANDER takes the misbaha out of his pocket and stretches out his hand toward SAHEIM – it is a gesture of trust. SAHEIM stands up, walks towards SANDER, and takes it.]

SAHEIM    Shukran. I mean todah…thank you.

SANDER    (pleasantly surprised) You can speak Hebrew?

SAHEIM    Yeah, my Baba thought it wise…We needed to learn a little bit of it…to survive, you know…especially after the war…after Palestine was occupied…

SANDER    (uncomfortably) Oh…yeah…

SAHEIM    (after a pause) Can you speak Arabic?

SANDER    …Uh, no. No, I…I can’t.

SAHEIM    I can teach you…if you’d like.

SANDER    That…would be nice. Yeah, I’d like that.

SAHEIM    Cool.

[SAHEIM walks back towards his place under the olive tree, sitting back down again.]

SANDER    (changing the topic) So… you like to sing?

SAHEIM    Yeah. Just don’t tell my Baba though, he wouldn’t be pleased!

[SAHEIM and SANDER share a brief moment of quiet laughter.]

SANDER    No, neither would mine! He doesn’t care much for the Americans, or their music, or anything to do with them for that matter. Something about imperialism.

SAHEIM    (laughing) Keep our identity strong, is that it?

SANDER    (agreeing, smiling widely) Yeah…our identity… (quieter) that’s right!

[SANDER and SAHEIM remain quiet for a few moments, deeply thinking about the idea of identity. What can possibly set us apart?]

SANDER    (to SAHEIM, indicating the ukulele) May I?

SAHEIM    Be my guest.

SANDER    (walks to the olive tree, sits down beside SAHEIM, and begins strumming the ukulele, softly singing) There is a house in New Orleans/They call the Rising Sun

BOTH    (SAHEIM joins SANDER in singing) it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy/And God I know I’m one

SAHEIM    My mother was a tailor/She sewed my new blue jeans

SANDER    My father was a gamblin’ man/Down in New Orleans

BOTH    Well, there is a house in New Orleans/They call the Rising Sun/And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy/ And God I know I’m one

SANDER    (giving back the ukulele to SAHEIM) Thanks.

SAHEIM    Yeah, it was…my pleasure.


SANDER    (after a pause) Have you ever dreamed of going someplace else?

SAHEIM    (chuckling) You have no idea!

SANDER    You know, if only I had the money, I would run away from here. Far, far away. Leave all this behind. (Looking at SAHEIM, smiling)In fact, I think I’d like to go to New Orleans.

SAHEIM    Share in a lil’ bit of that American Dream, huh?

SANDER    (laughing) Exactly!

SAHEIM    (smiling) Please take me with you.

SANDER    (jumping up, excitedly) Yeah, what’s stopping us?

SAHEIM    (looking at SANDER, surprised, though jokingly) I don’t even really know you!

SANDER    (a pause, looking at SAHEIM)…Well, that’s true.

SAHEIM    (thinking about it) But hey, why not?

SANDER    (smiling, softly repeating) Why not…

SAHEIM    (standing up, then walking up to SANDER) Besides, there are no strangers here. Only friends we haven’t met yet. (Extending his hand) My name’s Saheim. What’s yours?

SANDER    (a short pause, then shaking SAHEIM’s hand) Sander.

SAHEIM    Okay…Sander. What do you want us to do?

SANDER    (thinking, excitedly) We’ll run away. We’ll build a raft, with a rudder, waterproof sails and everything, then store it with food and water.

SAHEIM    Ah, then down the River Jordan we’ll go…but how will we do that? There have been land mines buried in parts of the riverbank, ever since the war in 1967! That’s way before both of us were even born! How will we know which parts are safe and which parts aren’t?

SANDER    Ah, curse the war! (Determined, smiling mischievously) We’ll just have to find a way through it.

SAHEIM    (shrugging, repeating) We’ll just have to find a way through it.

SANDER    We’ll be gone before they know it!

SAHEIM    And we’ll keep on going, never once looking back.

Scene 5

[The lights suddenly shift to the pink of an ocean sunrise. The sounds of seagulls, faint yet clear, permeate the salt air.]

SAHEIM    (looking at SANDER, grinning widely) Maybe we’ll sail around the world.

SANDER    I’ll work the boilers, you can take the wheel.

SAHEIM    Surfing on seas, over oceans

SANDER     we’ll speed towards the sunrise

SAHEIM    the wind in our hair

SANDER    the spray on our faces

BOTH    sailing beyond the sea where there be dragons

SANDER    and pirates

SAHEIM    mermaids

SANDER    and giant squids

SAHEIM    to treasure chests

SANDER    and secret coves

BOTH    with rum, we’ll toast

SAHEIM    to finding the new

SANDER    to finding the unknown

BOTH    to finding ourselves

[The lights then shift to the green of a jungle, the cries of seagulls replaced by the music of the wild; the shrill shrieks of monkeys, the cawing of birds, the low growling of the leopard, the tender rhythm of distant thunder.]

SANDER    Or maybe we’ll venture deep into the heart of the African jungle

SAHEIM    where, by day,

SANDER    we’ll battle leopards

SANDER    and lions.

SAHEIM    Where, by night,

SANDER    we’ll sleep to the sound of rain

SAHEIM     and dream to the rhythm of distant thunder

SAHEIM    living without a care in the world

BOTH        free from the screams of bombs and bullets

SANDER    free from the pain

SAHEIM    and the hurt

BOTH        and the hate

[The green lights shift finally to the brilliance of city lights, and the animal sounds drifting through the air transform into the life of a bustling place full of people; the faint honking of horns, the movement of cars, the quiet murmurings of city folk, and the ever-present melody of jazz music – this is 1980s New Orleans.]

BOTH    Or maybe we’ll find ourselves walking down the streets of a bustling city – ‘this is New Orleans’ they will say and we will know

SAHEIM    The air full of music

SANDER    the streets full of people, all of different colours

SAHEIM    shapes

SANDER    sizes

BOTH    identities

SAHEIM    Where no one will care if you’re black

SANDER    or white

BOTH    or even olive-skinned.

SAHEIM    Where you can be a Palestinian Arab

SANDER    or an Israeli Jew

BOTH    And no one would care.

[Light shift back to reality – it is now night.]

SAHEIM    But these are just dreams. These are just…crazy dreams.

SANDER    Then we’ll keep on dreaming them. And we’ll be crazy together.

SAHEIM    (agreeing) Together…We’ll keep on dreaming.

SANDER    (quietly) We’ll build a raft…

SAHEIM    (quieter) down the river…

SANDER    (quietest) and over the mines…


SANDER    It’s getting late. I best be getting home.

[SANDER turns to leave.]

SAHEIM    Wait…good night…Sander.

SANDER    (smiling) Good night…Saheim.

BOTH    Sweet dreams.


Scene 6

[The lights shift again to the daytime – this time, however, it is early dawn, perhaps indicated by the crowing of a rooster. The scene is washed in minimal light, set against the pink and orange of a looming sunrise. Thus, it finds itself in the middle ground – the plane between light and shadow. The silhouette of the olive tree should be prominent. SAHEIM sits down under the olive tree, holding, in his hands, his red misbaha.]

SAHEIM    Dreams are nothing but the fragments of thought…Yet was there ever a kingdom or an empire – an entire civilization – that wasn’t built on dreams?


SAHEIM    That was what we tried to do. To build a world on the things we knew we couldn’t have, but knew that if we somehow stretched our arms far enough, we would have at least a taste of it…Yes, a taste…a taste of a world filled with birdsong and olive trees, life and peace. A world where, instead of plundering, robbing, thieving – (emphatically) taking, we gave.

[Enter SANDER]

SANDER    Hello, Saheim.

SAHEIM    (surprised, though smiling) Good morning.

SANDER    I didn’t know if you’d be here…

SAHEIM    I come here all the time…every morning. It helps me think.

SANDER    May I join you?

SAHEIM    Of course.

[SANDER sits down beside SAHEIM, and a brief moment of silence follows. They just sit there – two olive boys – taking in the freshness of the morning air and feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays, which are now just about penetrating the ring of hills beyond the River Jordan. The feeling is one of peace.]

SAHEIM    I like to watch the sunrise…it’s the only time when it feels as if there could actually be peace in the world. Over there, you can see Jericho as it slowly comes alive with the morning sun. And over here, you can watch the gentle waves rolling in the River Jordan. Sometimes, you can even see fish, of all different colours!

SANDER    That must be a sight, huh?

SAHEIM    Yeah, it really is!

SANDER    (indicating the misbaha in SAHEIM’s hand) What’s that?

SAHEIM    Oh, this? This is…what you found for me, it’s my misbaha – I use it to pray. You know, to glorify God.

SANDER    Could you teach me?

SAHEIM    You mean with this?

SANDER    Yeah.

SAHEIM    (giving the misbaha to SANDER) Okay…well, there are thirty-three beads in mine, but you actually have to glorify God ninety-nine times.

SANDER    So, you have to go through the whole thing…three times.

SAHEIM    Exactly! So the first time you go through it, you say Allahu Akbar – God is the greatest.

SANDER    (softly) God is the greatest.

SAHEIM    Then, the second time around, you say Alhamdulillah – Praise be to God.

SANDER    Praise be to God.

SAHEIM    And finally, you say Subhanallah – Glory be to God.

SANDER    Glory be to God…Wow, that’s beautiful.

SAHEIM    And you end your prayers with La ilaha illa Allah.

SANDER    You’ll have to write that one down for me!

SAHEIM    (softly laughing) It means there is no god but God. It’s what a Muslim father whispers into the ear of his newborn child, and what is whispered into the ear of a dying person.

SANDER    (giving the misbaha back to SAHEIM) We have something like that, too…Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Echad – Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. It’s what we say before we go to sleep every night, and it’s also the last thing we say before we pass from this life, and into the next.

SAHEIM    See, we’re not so different!

SANDER    If only the others could see that, too.

SAHEIM    Yeah… (looks down at the misbaha)Here, you keep it.

SANDER    No, I couldn’t possibly—

SAHEIM    Here, I insist.

SANDER    Saheim—

SAHEIM    Sander, I insist.

SANDER    Are you sure?

SAHEIM    Never been surer.

SANDER    (taking the misbaha and looking at it) Todah…thanks…Oh, it reminds me, I have something for you, too.

SAHEIM    You do?

SANDER    (taking a Walkman out of his bag) It’s this… (sensing SAHEIM’s  uncertainty) It’s a Walkman. It can play music for you. See, you put this on (SANDER puts the headphones over SAHEIM’s ears), and  you put this (indicating the cassette) in here (puts the cassette in the Walkman and presses the play button – “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals begins to play.)

[SAHEIM, amazed, smiles and closes his eyes, enjoying the music. After a few seconds, he removes the headphones, looks at them in profound thought, then looks at SANDER, smiling. Meanwhile, the music fades out.]

SAHEIM    (gratefully) Thank you.

SANDER    (after a pause) I, um, I got it when I was thirteen, for my Bar Mitzvah – you know, when Jewish boys become adults.

[SAHEIM nods.]

SANDER    And I loved it. It was the best gift I’ve ever received. I could bring my music wherever I went…but after that night, I saw it and I thought of you. [Beat.] I thought you’d like to have it.

SAHEIM    That’s very nice of you, but…

SANDER    You can’t say no, not after this! (SANDER holds up the misbaha)

SAHEIM    (laughing) I guess you’re right about that…well, thank you, again.

SANDER    (smiling) No problem.


SANDER    (looking down at the misbaha) You think God lives in the midst of all this? In the middle of such pain and such…suffering?

SAHEIM    (almost joking) I’m not suffering now.

SANDER    (agreeing) Well, no, neither am I, but… (finding himself at a loss for words)

SAHEIM    (more seriously) Sometimes, I find it hard, too…

SANDER    Yeah?

SAHEIM    Yeah…but you learn to see through all that…I don’t know why bad things happen, or why they happen to good people…but I guess I trust in Him. You know what I mean?

SANDER    I do. I do trust in Him, too. But to have such blind faith, all of the time? There are times when it gets so difficult…

SAHEIM    It doesn’t have to be all blind. I mean, look around you, and tell me if you don’t see the work of His Hands.


SAHEIM    Can’t you see it in the glory of the sunrise, or in the clearness of the river, or even…in the arms of an old olive tree.

SANDER    You see Him everywhere?

SAHEIM    He is everywhere…even here.

SANDER    (softly) God is with us.

SAHEIM    (smiling) So who can be against us?

[They spend some moments in silence, gravely and ever-aware of the conflicts threatening the very existence of the fragile peace they have found.]

SAHEIM    When…I die, do you think I can…do you think I can go to Heaven?

SANDER    (after a hesitant pause) I sure hope so. (Laughing) You’re probably more deserving than I am!

[SAHEIM laughs, too.]

SANDER    Do you think I can go to Heaven, too?

SAHEIM    To be honest, I…I don’t know. (Looking at SANDER) I can only hope that if God wills it, insha’Allah, we’ll both be there.

SANDER    Well, if I can’t be with you in the next life, I hope we can at least be together in this one. (Extending his hand) Friends?

SAHEIM    (shaking SANDER’s hand) Brothers.

SANDER    (affirming) Brothers.

Scene 7

[As the first few lines of Scene 7 are said, the lights shift once more from morning to night. The locale shifts from the spot by the olive tree to their bedrooms – there should be an obvious divide, physically, though not in spirit. Throughout the scene, there should be subtle shifts from the world of reality to the world of dreams. The dream sequence is largely made up of seemingly-random events, from blood oaths to dances, Arabic and Hebrew letters to unexplainable wounds – this is the revelry of dreams dancing wildly into the night.]

BOTH        Brothers.

SAHEIM    That night.

SANDER    That night.

BOTH        That night, more tossing and turning that night, his face in my mind – what a strange exhilaration

SANDER    fumbling through the beads

SAHEIM    my fingers on the buttons

BOTH        that must have touched

SANDER    his hands

SAHEIM    his hands

BOTH        my hands!

SAHEIM    Button by button.

SANDER    Bead by bead.

BOTH        His smile in my mind.

SANDER    My hands have touched the enemy’s.

SAHEIM    These hands have touched a friend’s.

BOTH        My hands have touched the hands of an enemy-turned-friend-turned brother.

SANDER    His name.

SAHEIM    His name.

BOTH        His name, I dream, his name.

SAHEIM    Over and over

BOTH        in God’s ear I whisper his name, the words, the letters, the sounds that make up his face

SAHEIM    a dream

SANDER    the alephs and bets

SAHEIM    the alifs and baas

[The following lines are said simultaneously.]

SANDER    My Hebrew tongue and your Arabic name.
SAHEIM    My Arabic tongue and your Hebrew name.

BOTH        These hushed prayers

SAHEIM    in Hebrew

SANDER    and Arabic

SAHEIM    Hebrew

SANDER    and Arabic

SAHEIM    Hebrew

SANDER    and Arabic

BOTH        Does God hear in Hebrew or Arabic?


SANDER    A dream

SAHEIM    A dream

BOTH        I dream a dream, of you and me.

SANDER    Of blood.

SAHEIM    Of blood.

BOTH        Of your blood and mine. I cut my hands and

SANDER    bead by bead

BOTH        it spills.

[The dream is of a blood oath – a solemn vow to uphold their brotherhood, no matter the cost.]

BOTH        (they shake hands) But your blood is mine and mine is yours. So the blood that gushes from your side, is it yours or mine?

SANDER    Abraham’s blood courses through your veins

SAHEIM    and spills out from yours.

SANDER    Your blood is smeared on every doorpost

SAHEIM    Your blood is sprinkled on every lintel

BOTH        Our blood is on the olive tree, and in the River Jordan – an endless parade of blood – until it parts to reveal an endless parade of lambs

SAHEIM    born

SANDER    raised

BOTH        grown to be slaughtered.

SANDER    A dream

SAHEIM    A dream

BOTH        I dream a dream

SANDER    of Isaac

SAHEIM    and of Ishmael

SANDER    No ram for the sacrifice.

SAHEIM    No bread to be broken.

BOTH        Just you and me, sacrificed and broken.

SANDER    I am Isaac

SAHEIM    I am Ishmael

BOTH        I am the lamb.


SANDER    A dream

SAHEIM    A dream

BOTH        I dream a dream

SAHEIM    a dance

Scene 8

[A dream or not a dream? Though it should remain unclear, the lighting should suggest that this scene takes place in reality; the line between the world of reality and the world of dreams is blurred.]

SANDER    A dance?

SAHEIM    (dragging SANDER by the hand) Yes, come on!

SANDER    (wringing free from SAHEIM’s grasp) Saheim, no…I…I can’t dance.

SAHEIM    Of course you can! Don’t be afraid! Just…just follow my lead!

[Holding onto SANDER’s right hand with his left, SAHEIM begins to dance the dabke. In his right hand is his keffiyeh, which he will twirl in time to the music – dabke music should fade in, perhaps suggested by the Walkman which should be visible on the stage.]

[The dabke is an Arab folk dance – a symbol of life, love, and struggle. Often performed at weddings and parties, it is a joyous dance that has grown to become a form of creative protest by the Palestinians against the Israelis. However, SAHEIM and SANDER’s dance is a protest in its own right – a protest against cultural division and hatred. In this way, they fight for what they believe in, upholding the cooperation, solidarity, and brotherhood that the dabke stands for.]

[The dabke consists of a leader – SAHEIM – leading a group of men holding hands – in this case, just SANDER. The leader, always in front of the line, does the basic steps, adding “fancy steps” as well. The follower keeps the rhythm with the basic steps. The dance itself involves fast footwork – walking, leaping, kicks and stomps of feet and heels.]

[At first, only SAHEIM is dancing, starting off with the basic steps. Still holding SAHEIM’s hand, SANDER just watches, his face a mixture of awe, curiosity, and admiration. Then, SANDER begins to pick up the rhythm – slowly, he begins dancing the basic steps. Eventually, both SAHEIM and SANDER will be dancing to the fullest of their ability, their energy spent with every move, their will squeezed into every part of their body, quivering with the excitement and joy of youth. The dabke, interspersed with laughter and ululation, lasts for no longer than a minute or less. Soon, the music fades out. SAHEIM and SANDER slow down in their movements. It is happy, though fleeting and brief. They finally separate, each laughing, falling to the ground in exhaustion.]

SANDER    (panting, exhausted, though happy) I…never knew…that music could do that!

SAHEIM    (also happily exhausted) Do what?

SANDER    Take me away from here. I mean, I knew songs could be about faraway places, but feeling it…is something quite different.

SAHEIM    (intrigued) And where did it take you?

SANDER    (in an amazed voice) Everywhere…through desert skies, over clouds and…

Scene 9

[Lights shift to night – a night brimming with stars. It is now reality.]

SAHEIM    to the stars?

SANDER    (looking at SAHEIM) To the stars.

SAHEIM    By the light of the moon

SANDER    and the stars

BOTH        By the light of the crescent moon and those six-pointed stars

SANDER    for hours

SAHEIM    we talked

SANDER    and talked

BOTH        and talked

SAHEIM    of things far away

SANDER    and of things close to our hearts

SAHEIM    of hope

SANDER    of desire

BOTH        of dreams. (Emphatically) Our dreams.

SAHEIM    And for the first time…

SANDER    as if for the very first time…

BOTH        I saw sights, heard sounds, felt things I’d never felt before.

SAHEIM    the way the stars winked

SANDER    the way the moon beamed

SAHEIM    the wind brushing through my hair

SANDER    the sweat dripping down my face

BOTH        the way my heart pounded in my chest.

SAHEIM    As if for the first time…

BOTH        I felt alive.

[An obvious shift from thought to dialogue.]

SANDER    (laughingly) A life? Can you believe it? She actually told me to get a life!

SAHEIM    (laughing, too) I know how you feel! My mother actually felt the same way, especially when I was younger. My mother, she would look at me and she would say what a useless child I was! Instead of helping her tend the olive trees or herd the sheep with Baba, I would spend the whole afternoon reading. I loved it! And as a child, my favourite story was “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp”, which was about a poor boy who rubs this lamp, and a genie comes out of it. This genie is then forced to do the bidding of whoever is holding the lamp, and at the end of the story, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful, marries a princess, and lives happily ever after.

SANDER    Wow…you must have wanted that lamp pretty badly, huh?

SAHEIM    You’d better believe it!

SANDER    (after a pause) Saheim, tell me, if you somehow got a hold of this lamp…what would you wish for?

SAHEIM    (thinking deeply) I would wish…for the world to change. For the stars to be rewritten. For the others to see as we do…it’s not that they can’t close their eyes to see the world we see…rather, it’s that they haven’t opened them.

SANDER    (Profoundly) I would wish for the same thing…either that or a one-way ticket to New Orleans! (Suddenly excited) Though instead of a magic lamp, I know of something better. In the city of Jerusalem, there’s this wall – the Western Wall. It’s the holiest place where Jews can pray because we believe that God’s Divine Presence rests upon it. And in the cracks of this wall, you can place a note, a slip of paper, a prayer. And some say that if you’re a good person and you put a wish in the wall, your wish comes true.

SAHEIM    Wow…but Jerusalem, that’s eighteen miles from here! That’s a long road ahead of us!

SANDER    I know. That’s why I want you to come with me.

SAHEIM    Still, it’s pretty risky…a lot of robbers down that road.

SANDER    You’re right. (After some thought) There is another thing I’ve always wished for, something that maybe you can help me with, even now.

SAHEIM    What’s that?

SANDER    Could you…could you teach me Arabic?

SAHEIM    (smiling, remembering the first day they actually met) Of course, how could I forget? (Indicating with a tilt of his head) Come here.

[Crouching down beside SAHEIM, SANDER looks on as SAHEIM draws his attention towards the sand on the ground.]

SAHEIM    Now, the Arabic script is very different from Hebrew…not that I know how to write Hebrew…but at least from what I’ve seen. (Looking at SANDER) But you probably know that already.

SANDER    (while nodding) Can you teach me how to write my name?

SAHEIM    Your name?

SANDER    My name.

SAHEIM    (softly) Sander…It’s like this.

[Using his finger like the brush of an expert artist, SAHEIM carves out the soft flows and curves of SANDER’s name in Arabic, preciously engraved in the golden sand.]

SAHEIM    You begin with sin, then nun, followed by dal, finally ending with ra.

SANDER    (repeating) Sin, nun, dal, ra…That’s it?

SAHEIM    Yep! It’s that easy! Here, let me help you.

[At this point, SAHEIM takes SANDER’s hand and guides it through the sand.]

BOTH        (quietly, together) Sin, nun (SAHEIM slowly releases his hand from SANDER’s) dal, ra

SAHEIM    (quietly, encouragingly) You’ve got it.

SANDER    (simply, gazing at his handiwork) Wow…


SAHEIM    (after some thought) Teach me in Hebrew.

SANDER    (almost absent-mindedly) What?

SAHEIM    Teach me how to write my name in Hebrew.

SANDER    (fully realizing, smiling) Okay.

SAHEIM    (quietly) Cool.

SANDER    It’s a little bit longer, but this is what you do – and we write from right to left, too – you start with samech, then aleph, hey, yod, and finally, mem. (Reading it out) Saheim.

[As every letter is said, SANDER writes each one in the sand. SAHEIM looks on, fully attuned to SANDER’s every movement – his fingers as they dance through the golden grains, his voice as it rings out the dulcet tones of each letter.]

SANDER    Now you try.

SAHEIM    (quietly repeating the letters, writing each one with care) Samech, aleph, hey, yod, mem.

SANDER    (softly) Perfect.

SAHEIM    Perfect?

BOTH        Perfect.

Scene 10

[Lights shift to indicate the passing of time.]

BOTH        If only life was that perfect. But with the changing of time, came the changing of seasons, with the changing of seasons came the summer, and with the summer came exams.

[Once more, the chimes of a gong – the school bell – reverberates through the halls that is the stage.]

BOTH        More and more

SANDER    we used our time to study.

BOTH        More and more

SAHEIM    we saw each other

BOTH        less and less. [Beat.] But with the passing months came the letters.

SANDER    Those alephs and bets.

SAHEIM    Those alifs and baas.

BOTH        He was a fast learner.

SANDER    Every morning I would put a note in the cracks of the olive tree

SAHEIM    and every night, I would take it out, making sure to respond with another letter as the next day woke up with the rising sun.

BOTH        Every day

SAHEIM    back and forth

SANDER    back and forth

BOTH        back and forth

SAHEIM    giving

SANDER    just to take

BOTH        we stopped by the olive tree. (Emphatically) Our own Western Wall.

SAHEIM    No wishes were granted.

SANDER    No dreams made manifest.

BOTH        Just the pleasure of talking to him – that was always enough.

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Saheim, the days leading up to summer fall away too slowly when I’m not with you. Why must we spend more time in the places we do not want to be? School is dragging on so slowly, but it certainly goes by faster than I can raise my grades. I can only hope you are faring better. Your brother, Sander.’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Sander, on these June nights, I find I cannot sleep. My mind suffers much from daydreams of the places we’ve explored together – why I must be tortured with longing for the places we can only find in dreams, I will never know. My grades aren’t doing so well, either. Let it be another thing keeping us together. Your brother, Saheim.’

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Saheim…’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Sander…’

BOTH        (reading from their letters) ‘Life at home is getting difficult.’

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Someone threw a stone at Abba yesterday. He wouldn’t stop bleeding.’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘My older brother was beaten with clubs by soldiers just last night. Why must they break the innocent, too?’

BOTH        (reading from their letters) ‘Stay strong.’

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Is it wrong, for a people to harvest olive trees, only for them to be cut down and taken away?’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Is it fair, for a people to be robbed of their flags, of their tears, and of peace?

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Injured.’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Deported.’

BOTH        (reading from their letters) ‘One by one, the people I love fall away.’

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Saheim…’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Sander…’

BOTH        (reading from their letters) ‘I always keep you in my prayers.’

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter)    ‘Dear Saheim…’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Sander…’

BOTH        (reading from their letters) ‘Always keep me in yours.’

SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Saheim…’

SANDER    (reading from a letter) ‘Dear Sander…’

BOTH        (reading from their letters) ‘Brother…’


SAHEIM    (reading from a letter) ‘I cannot see you again.’

[Exit SANDER.]

[SAHEIM, perhaps quietly crying, stumbles to the olive tree, isolated and deep – too deep – in thought.]

Scene 11

[The lighting should indicate that time is no longer passing – it remains still in the brilliance of a red sunset, just before dusk. The scene is, once again, by the old olive tree, just before the River Jordan and the bank filled with landmines – all within sight of Jericho. SAHEIM is alone by the olive tree, his silhouette an obvious contrast with the fiery sky behind him.]

[Enter SANDER.]

SANDER    (approaching SAHEIM, gently) Saheim?

SAHEIM    (seeing SANDER, then running towards him with open arms) Sander?

[SAHEIM and SANDER embrace – two olive boys, two brothers – baking in the heat of the oppressive orb of fire behind them, the setting sun’s final act of defiance against two sons of the rising sun.]

SAHEIM     (letting go of SANDER) But I thought…

SANDER    I couldn’t…not without you…you made me see things I’d never seen…hear things I’d never heard before…and for the first time, I felt at last that I could hope…the chance to actually change the world…

SAHEIM    (touched) Sander…

SANDER    And so I’m running away.

SAHEIM    What?

SANDER    I can’t stay at home, not here. (Desperately) I’m getting so tired of this place! And my parents…my parents know about you. They said I can’t see you anymore…They don’t see what I see.

SAHEIM    So all they see is…

SANDER    An Arab boy and his bag of stones and Molotov cocktails!

SAHEIM    Sander…

SANDER    Saheim, come with me. Let’s drift away, across the river, to where we’ll be free. To New Orleans. To dream. To live…as brothers.

SAHEIM    Sander…please…

SANDER    What, you think it’s foolish?

SAHEIM    No…Sander…it’s not that.

SANDER    (after a pause, with the pain of realization) You can’t come, can you?

SAHEIM    Please, try to understand…I want, more than anything, to go with you and follow you…But I can’t…Not with my people being oppressed like this. Just last night, Baba was taken away to prison without any explanation and Mama hasn’t stopped crying since. I can’t leave them…not now.

SANDER    I…I’m so sorry…I didn’t know.

SAHEIM    No, and I don’t expect you to.

SANDER    I am so sorry.

SAHEIM    As am I.

SANDER    (softly) You’ll find a way through it.

SAHEIM    (smiling, though sadly) I’m sure you will, too. [Beat.] Sander, will you wait for me there?

SANDER    (smiling) You know I will.

[SAHEIM and SANDER share another embrace – this one, more consciously finite, yet somehow, more eternal. It is seared into the blood-red sky, which is now flickering, sinking, being sucked into the void that is night – the realm of crescent moons and six-pointed stars. In the midst of the emotion surrounding their embrace, SANDER somehow drops his flashlight from his open bag. Their embrace is cut short as they hear the flashlight falling onto the dusty ground below.]

SANDER    (dropping to the ground) Oh…

SAHEIM    (also dropping to the ground, smiling) I got it. Here, you can’t forget this!

SANDER    (taking the flashlight, smiling sadly) Thanks.

SAHEIM    (smiling, looking at SANDER) We’ll keep on dreaming.

SANDER    (smiling, a little happier) We’ll build a raft…

SAHEIM    down the river…

SANDER    and over the mines…

BOTH        Crazy together…

SANDER    (Looking at SAHEIM, softly) Good-bye brother.

SAHEIM    (softly) Good-bye…brother.

[Exit SANDER.]

Scene 12

[The sound of a bomb detonating shakes the whole stage – the very soil trembles as the earth – SAHEIM’s world – quakes. A bright flash of light signifies that a landmine has exploded – or is it that a soul has gone from this world to the next? Smoke quickly fills the stage, only to soon dissipate and unveil a haunting scene: SAHEIM is seated on the floor, with his head down and eyes closed; stretched out on his lap, limp and lifeless, is SANDER. Behind them, shrouded in shadow, is a lone olive tree. Its silhouette against the dimly lit cyclorama – now a night without stars – gives it the air of an angel of death, its wings spread out as if to shelter the two lost mortals on the ground, trapping them in a barren landscape reeking of death. It is a cruel distortion of Michelangelo’s Pietà – instead of pristine marble, the figures are of flesh and bone. Bloodied, battered, and bruised.]

SAHEIM    (crying, with a lifeless SANDER in his arms) Sander…

[The next few lines are broken by intermittent sobs.]

SAHEIM    This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be…Children aren’t supposed to die like this…not like this…


SAHEIM    (whispering) Wait for me there…Wait for me there…Sander, please…Wait for me there…

[Lifting his face up to heaven, SAHEIM looks up in desperation, trembling with human weakness, deploring, imploring, begging God.]

[He looks down at SANDER again, tenderly, longingly, unable to stop the tears streaming down his face.]

SAHEIM    (whispering into SANDER’s ears, broken by sobbing) Shema YisraelAdonaiEloheinu Echad

[Having finished the prayer, SAHEIM begins to sing – it is a haunting melody that continues to pierce the invisible waves in the air, long after they are gone. It is as present in the air as the phantoms of voices, dreams, and hopes of ages past – the whispered nothings of ghosts sighing in their sleep.]

SAHEIM    (singing, sadly and hauntingly)
There is a house in New Orleans    
They call the Rising Sun    
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy    
And God I know I’m one.

[As SAHEIM sings, the lone olive tree bends to hear his whispered prayers. The lights fade to blackout – forever trapped in a world of crescent moons and six-pointed stars, never to return to the rising sun.]




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One thought on “Of Stars and Crescents

  1. Dearest Jieo,

    After finishing my final free choice, I couldn’t help but read yours (as you have mentioned the story to me before) at 12:00 am. At that point in the night, I was very vulnerable to emotions, and my tear glands hurt after reading your piece. I love the entirety of this play, down to the precise stage directions, the languages you incorporated, and the characters of Sander and Saheim. At the beginning, with all the foreshadowing you did, I realized they were going to die at the end, and I kept wishing that they wouldn’t… my heart hurts! Aaahh!

    Moving on from the brilliance from your writing, it was an honour to get to know you these two years of AP. I was so happy with the interactions of our family group, how we were able to grow close friends together, and you never failed to inspire and amaze me with your pieces. I always looked forward to AP everyday, and was excited to see the insights that you brought into the class; from the biblical allusions of Dorian Gray, the fulfilling poetry seminar, and the languages you presented, it was a pleasure to see your growth and slow revelations of personality and souls. Thank you so much for all that you’ve given me.

    Much love,

    Your family group member, Kelley

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