Play About an Israeli-Lebanese Grindr Relationship Goes Virtual This Weekend

Wednesday October 14, 2020

Morad Hassan (left) and Yoel Rozenkier
Morad Hassan (left) and Yoel Rozenkier   (Source:Theatre of Uncertainty 2020)

When theater goes dark, go virtual. That's the strategy that Israeli playwright Nimrod Danishman utilized after the pandemic forced him to cancel his play "Borders" earlier this year. Instead of waiting for theaters to reopen, he adapted his play for the messaging app Telegraph — a platform similar to WhatsApp that allows groups of several hundred on each chat — and plans on streaming it over three days.

His play, which takes place over three months, "is about two gay men, Boaz (Yoel Rozenkier), an Israeli, and George (Morad Hassan), who is Lebanese, who meet on Grindr, a social networking app for the LGBTQ community," reports the Times of Israel.

"Borders" is being performed as part of "Theatre of Uncertainty 2020," an international gathering of theater people taking place October 14-15 online, hosted by Israeli theater organization EVE. The play began its three-day run on Tuesday, and can be joined by audience members at any time on the Telegraph app.

"I had to figure out how to do it virtually," said Danishman. "I think it offers something that's missing now when you just watch recordings of plays."

What's different is that on the app viewers watch and hear the messages — voice calls, videos and photos — between the men, but can't interact.

"It puts the emphasis on a live experience, and you feel like you're with others in this experience," Danishman told the Times of Israel. "You're watching it together."

The play, Danishman's final student project at Kibbutzim College School of Performing Arts, was produced Off-Broadway and in Washington, DC, and was nominated for several local awards.

It hit some kind of nerve," said Danishman. "There's something relating to pop culture in this love story between two guys, so that pulls people."

"Audiences loved the love story between two men, and the fact that they're from enemy states. The language also felt familiar, with a screen above the stage showing the text messages being sent back and forth," adds the Times of Israel.

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