When the Israeli prime minister and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization shook hands on the White House lawn in 1993, the rest of 5he world had absolutely no clue the effort it took to bring about such an event. Hidden from the scrutiny of the public eye, a Norwegian diplomat named Mona Juul and her academic professor husband Terje Rød-Larsen conspired a top secret scheme to get the warring sides together at an estate just outside of Oslo. Far away from international attention, the mortal enemies, Israel and Palestine, were able to face each other not as adversaries, but as human beings. What transpires on stage is equal parts tragedy, comedy and suspense thriller, moving at lightning speed and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
TimeLine Theatre Company presents the Chicago premiere of OSLO, the 2017 Tony Award winner for Best Play. It is a remarkable story about the unlikely friendships, quiet heroics, and sheer determination that pushed two foes to reach something neither thought truly possible—peace.
Set in 1993, OSLO takes us behind closed doors for the secret meetings, feuds, and alliances that orchestrated a momentous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. It was a gesture that generated both optimism and fury across the globe as the Oslo Accords were signed.
Says TimeLine’s artistic director P.J. Powers: “Amidst division—both stateside and abroad—OSLO is a beacon of hope, demonstrating how we might never be able to tackle major discord without starting with seemingly minor points of connection. Listening. Relating. Sharing a meal. A joke. A vulnerable piece of ourselves. Being willing to recognize the humanity in our antagonist. With humor, pathos, and suspense, playwright J.T. Rogers audaciously challenges us to imagine such a possibility.”
The events of OSLO are true and nothing short of inspiring. History has since shown that the Oslo Accords did not hold up, and 26 years later, peace between the two adversaries remains a process fraught with intricacy and rancor. Yet OSLO still brims with relevance and resonance.
“In the middle of the endless bloodshed and hatred, members of the Israeli Government and the PLO chose to sit across from their enemies and see them as human beings. Each side listened to the other and was permanently changed by that listening. I am awed by the personal and political courage that took. It is a moment of history that I do not want forgotten.” ~ playwright J.T. Rogers.
In today’s tense political climate fraught with derision and fear, run, don’t walk, to see OSLO. Come away inspired by possibilities brought to light by sheer humanity of the play. We, all of us, share a common denominator despite our differences. And choosing to keep an open mind, share a table and a conversation with those on the opposing side might prove not only fruitful, but life- and world-changing. The events of OSLO can not be underestimated or forgotten.
OSLO is playing through October 20th at Broadway Playhouse Theatre at 175 East Chestnut Street on Magnificent Mile.
The Local Tourist tickets for two to the opening night performance courtesy of Margie Korshak Inc.
Photos: Brett Beiner Photography