God waits at the Station

»God waits at the Station«

»Gott wartet an der Haltestelle« | by Maya Arad Yasur
German translation by Matthias Naumann

with additional use of
»How to remain a humanist after a massacre in 17 steps« | by Maya Arad Yasur
German translation by Matthias Naumann

At a checkpoint between Israel and the West Bank, two young women face each other: Israeli soldier Yael and Palestinian nurse Amal. Yael allows Amal to pass without a permit, which is strictly forbidden. As a soldier at the border, as her superiors have emphasized, Yael is responsible for an entire country. But Amal appears to be pregnant and doesn’t seem to be a threat to anyone. Using a gray area in the regulations, Yael lets Amal pass. Shortly after, Amal kills thirty people in a suicide attack in a restaurant in Israel. Now, who is to blame? Yael, who allowed Amal to cross the border without a permit? The taxi driver who took Amal to the restaurant, even though she couldn't show him any identification either? Or is it the situation of Amal's family, who was forced to leave their home in Haifa and living in a Palestinian refugee camp? Amal was born there, where even the children play »terrorists« and »soldiers« from the start.

Amal became a nurse to help people. Her brother, on the other hand, radicalized and joined a Palestinian terror group. As a consequence, he is killed by the Israeli secret service and his entire family is placed under general suspicion. Hence, there are no permits issued for Amal and her seriously ill father and therefore they have no chance of getting an adequate medical care for the old man. Is it the bitterness over the hopeless situation that drove Amal to her desperate act?

In numerous flashbacks, the characters in Maya Arad Yasur's drama »God Waits at the Station« examine the reasons for the suicide bombing. Using personal stories, they make the seemingly unsolvable Middle East conflict tangible. What does an atmosphere of constant fear do to a society? How do the Israeli people live with the fear of attacks? How desperately do Palestinians long for a chance to return to their homes? The text asks where in the chain of events there might have been moments to avert the catastrophe. There's no categorization of people as victims and perpetrators. Both sides have an equal voice; the play is not about guilt, but about the attempt to decipher the formula of hate.

At the same time, the play aesthetically and historically opens up to a much wider space reaching back to ancient times. The Middle East conflict serves as an example of how to approach a society stuck in a fatal cycle of violence, where emotions like fear, pain, and hatred rule and strongly influence political decisions.

The Tel Aviv-based Jewish author Maya Arad Yasur (*1976) wrote »God waits at the Station« in 2014 as part of the »TERRORisms« project of the Union des Théâtres de l'Europe.

Following the Hamas massacre on October 7, 2023, Maya Arad Yasur wrote down a topical commentary, in order to organize her thoughts and regain her language after the shock that affected not only the whole of Israel: »How to remain a humanist after a massacre in 17 steps«. After close consultation between the author and the production team this text was woven into the Heilbronn production of »God Waits at the Station«.


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