A border separates the cities of Tel Aviv and Ramallah, but a one-man beat-boxing play is bringing both places together.
“From Tel Aviv to Ramallah,” a hip-hop show coming to CSU on Wednesday night, will showcase the everyday lives of Israelis and Palestinians in the two cities.
“The production is really about bringing out the humanity of both places,” said Yuri Lane, the lone actor in the play. “The show gives a hip-hop perspective to life in these two places.”
The play focuses on the daily lives of two main characters – Amir, a Tel Aviv DJ by night and delivery boy by day, and Khalid, a Ramallah Internet cafe owner. Lane plays all the characters, including Amir and Khalid’s Westernized friends, extremist friends, mothers and even the voices of cities.
“Using my acting and beat-boxing I play 15 different characters and go on a journey to both places,” Lane said. “Each character is identified with their own individual beat-box.”
The play is written and directed by Rachel Havrelock, Lane’s wife and a director of Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Each character has a unique visual backdrop, which is created by Sharif Ezzat, a San Francisco-based video artist.
The play was inspired by a trip Lane and Havrelock took to the Middle East in 1999 and 2000, where the couple went to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah.
“We met a bunch of people along the way and each day I would rewind our experience back in beat-box,” Lane said.
Lane started beat-boxing in middle school while growing up in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The actor now lives in Chicago.
“I developed a real love for hip-hop,” Lane said. “I started out trying to repeat the sounds of Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC, and beat-boxers like Doug E. Fresh and Buffy from the Fat Boys.”
No political sides are taken in the play in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but differing political views are brought up.
Many images people see of these areas depict violence and extremism, but the show reveals a side people do not see on TV or read in the newspapers, Lane said.
Hillel and the Students for Cultural, Historical Awareness of Israel (CHAI, which in Hebrew means life) are presenting the hip-hop play.
“This a different type of event than we’ve ever shown before,” said Hedy Berman, director of Hillel at CSU. “We wanted a point of view that comes from a youthful experience, that comes from a college age group that students can relate to.”
The play brings a positive and different outlook to the conflict with hip-hop and performance – it focuses more on the social aspect of what is going on, said Suzy Stanley, a member of CHAI and a sophomore speech communications major.
“It is not a war zone all the time like the media says it is,” Stanley said. “They have their daily lives they go through to.”
“From Tel Aviv to Ramallah” has never been shown in Colorado and is also being presented at the University of Denver Thursday. An audience discussion will take place after the show is over.
“I want to show the audience that Ramallah and Tel Aviv are similar,” Lane said. “We want them to feel the beat and pulse of these two places through the language of hip-hop and beat-box.”
Staff writer Brian Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Out: “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A Beat-box Journey”
When: Wednesday at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Lory Student Center Theater
Price: free for students and the public