Helana Sawires and Osamah Sami as Jomana and Rami in  Tales of a City by the Sea , La Mama Courthouse. Photo by  Justyn Koh.

Helana Sawires and Osamah Sami as Jomana and Rami in Tales of a City by the Sea, La Mama Courthouse. Photo by Justyn Koh.

TALES OF A CITY BY THE SEA

Producers: Lara Week, Daniel Clark, and Samah Sabawi
Playwright: Samah Sabawi

Tales of a City by the Sea is the story of two people who meet and fall in love in the besieged Gaza strip during the bombardment of the winter of 2008. It features eight actors, and a singer who performs traditional Arabic songs without accompaniment.

Tales of a City by the Sea premiered simultaneously in Australia and in Palestine in November 2014. The Melbourne production was staged and co-produced by La Mama Theatre and directed by Lech Mackiewicz. All performances were sold out. An additional performance was added on the last weekend and sold out within hours.

The show received passionate responses from audiences. Hundreds of people posted about the show on social media, encouraging their friends to see it, and asking for remounts in other Australian cities.

The production in Palestine was staged by AlRowwad Cultural and Theatre Society in the Aida refugee camp and directed by Abdelfattah Abusrour. During the rehearsals and the performances, the cast and crew were subjected to various challenges ranging from travel restrictions, to curfews and violent Israeli incursions into the camp. But with determination, the play was finally premiered almost one week past its initial opening night. The West Bank production received great reviews and media attention in the Arabic press. 

In 2016, the production was selected for the VCE Drama Playlist, and toured to Sydney’s Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Adelaide, and Kuala Lumpur. The production was financed entirely through community support: with an online crowdfunding campaign that exceeded its target, individual donations, and the hospitality of those who hosted the team in their homes when touring. Tales of a City by the Sea went on to win two awards from Drama Victoria, and was nominated for Best Independent Production at the Green Room Awards.

“[A] nuanced exploration of the myriad ways the occupation affects Palestinians at home and abroad...This gripping play is an act of resistance that implores its audience to take heed.”
— The Age