(Stephen Moss’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/22.)
“I wasn’t prepared for questions like this,” says Dalia Taha, the 28-year-old Palestinian writer. “I hate these questions. It’s always like this for artists or writers who come from places with conflicts and wars. People, especially in the west, have specific expectations. You expect us to make a political statement, to tell the story of our suffering.”
Taha has lived in Ramallah since the age of four, and her new play Fireworks examines the claustrophobia of life under siege. I had asked her if a key character, a 12-year-old girl trying to make sense of the nightmare, is her. “No, I don’t think so,” she replied, before getting properly annoyed.
I protest that the play – about a Palestinian couple coming to terms with the death of their son, who has been killed in the conflict – is about politics. “Art in its essence always challenges power structures,” she says. “It’s always responding to politics. But at the same time it is art, so it’s also doing something else. It’s playing with aesthetics and form. I’m trying to respond to both. That’s why I hate questions like, ‘How was it to grow up in Palestine?’”