Conflict Resolution 

Noa Baum tells stories of the Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

Baum conveys the difficulty of this struggle as she weaves together their stories, both as narrator and each character. As Jumana, she confesses the hatred that she felt for the Israeli soldiers after she witnessed them beating a young Palestinian boy. Speaking as the narrator, Baum wonders if she can reveal to Jumana that those same Israeli soldiers were a symbol of security to her. The soldiers she feared were the Nazis who inhabited her nightmares as a child (almost all of Baum’s extended family was killed in the Holocaust).

As Baum continues with the stories, we see more contrasts. The war in 1967 is an adventure for the 9-year-old Noa and a horror for Jumana’s mother, Muna, a young woman wanting to protect her children.

With each story, we see that the women on both sides have suffered. Baum’s mother, Zipporah, finds hope for a Jewish homeland in the war of 1948 but also loses a brother. Yet it’s not all suffering. We can’t help but smile, for example, at young Noa’s excitement about sleeping in the furnace room of their building during the war as if it were some exotic locale.

One of the dangers of a one-person show where the actor and storyteller plays more than one role is that there might not be enough differentiation between the characters. Baum avoids this pitfall by giving each woman a distinctive voice and physicality. The staging helps, too. Baum stands center stage as the narrator, moves to one side of the stage when she is speaking as the Palestinian characters and to the other as the Israelis. A cross between theater and traditional storytelling, the show easily holds the audience’s attention for its 75-minute duration.

“A Land Twice Promised” is an emotionally moving and thought-provoking exploration of a complex relationship between two women and between two peoples. Answering questions after a recent performance in Fredricksburg, Baum said that the last three years of escalating violence have made it hard for those committed to peace to hold onto their hope. She continues to tell her stories precisely because they contain the hope that people can move beyond prejudice and fear to compassion and peace. S

Noa Baum’s “A Land Twice Promised” plays at the University of Richmond’s Camp Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13. Admission is free.

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