(Ligaya Mishan’s article appeared in The New York Time, 8/30; via Pam Green.)
The rehearsal room smelled of onions slackening in a pan. They hissed on the stove, in the basement of a Lutheran church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as Nadine Malouf hacked at a slab of beef, her eyes fixed on her director, Amir Nizar Zuabi, and not the knife, which was closing in on her fingertips.
“I don’t want her to cut herself,” Mr. Zuabi said, seated in a folding chair nearby. “But I want her to make mistakes.”
It was the third day of rehearsals for “Oh My Sweet Land,” Mr. Zuabi’s 2013 play about a woman (Ms. Malouf) of Syrian-German descent whose search for a lost lover takes her from a sheltered life in Paris to the refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan and finally into Syria, to confront the smoldering remains of her cultural inheritance. First performed in Lausanne, Switzerland, and then in London at the Young Vic, where Mr. Zuabi is an international associate, the one-woman show will have its United States premiere in New York on Friday, Sept. 8, presented by the Play Company.
But the location is a mystery — even to Ms. Malouf, 30, who won’t have a chance to see where she’ll be performing until half an hour before showtime almost every night. For Mr. Zuabi, displacement is integral to the narrative. Ms. Malouf will be forced to navigate unfamiliar surroundings again and again. “Every kitchen will have a new geography,” Mr. Zuabi, 41, said. “Every evening will be a new voyage.”