Munich: Wajdi Mouawad’s play “Birds” – Munich

The play “Birds” by the Lebanese-Canadian author Wajdi Mouawad deals with the Middle East conflict, questions of origin and religion and is at the same time a family and love story. It premiered in Paris in 2017 under his direction. He had developed the production with Jewish and Arab members of his ensemble and had consulted with Natalie Zemon Davis, a historian of Jewish origin. The text is multilingual in English, German, Hebrew and Arabic. In 2018 it was shown in Germany for the first time and has been staged many times at other houses. “Birds” was also shown in Israel.

The play initially takes place in New York. There, the young genetics researcher Eitan falls in love with the doctoral student Wahida, he is Jewish, she is Arab. When Eitan wants to introduce his new girlfriend to his parents David and Norah and his grandfather Etgar, things get heated. For the devout father, the liaison is unacceptable. Eitan’s mother also opposes this out of solidarity with his father, while his grandfather, a concentration camp survivor, tries to mediate. After the scandal, Eitan carries out DNA tests on the family and discovers that David is not Etgar’s son. He then travels to Israel with Wahida.

There Eitan is looking for his grandmother Leah, but is seriously injured in a Palestinian terrorist attack. Israel reacted militarily to the attack. In this tense situation, the parents and grandfather also travel to Israel to support Eitan. Meanwhile, Wahida discovers her Arab identity and decides to stay in Palestine and leave Eitan. As for the father David, it turns out that he was born in a Palestinian farming village and that Etgar, as a soldier, stole him from the deserted village in 1967. Realizing this, David suffers a stroke, dying in a coma he hears a reconciliation parable. Eitan sees himself as the “heir of two peoples tearing each other apart”. As long as this happens, he will find no consolation.

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