Birds of a Kind

By Wajdi Mouawad
Translated by Linda Gaboriau

Birds of a Kind
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Is it really important to cling to our lost identities?

A terrorist attack in Jerusalem puts Eitan, a young Israeli-German genetic researcher, in a coma, while his girlfriend Wahida, a Moroccan graduate student, is left to uncover his family secret that brought them to Israel ... Read more


Overview

Is it really important to cling to our lost identities?

A terrorist attack in Jerusalem puts Eitan, a young Israeli-German genetic researcher, in a coma, while his girlfriend Wahida, a Moroccan graduate student, is left to uncover his family secret that brought them to Israel in the first place. Since Eitan’s parents erupted at a Passover meal when they realized Wahida was not Jewish, he has harboured a suspicion about his heritage that, if true, could change everything.

In this sweeping new drama from the prolific Wajdi Mouawad, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hits close to home as a straitlaced family is forced to confront everything they know about their identities.

Wajdi Mouawad

Wajdi Mouawad (author of Scorched, Tideline, Forests and Heavens, among others) has established himself as a uniquely original player on the contemporary theatre scene. His plays have been translated into more than twenty languages and presented all over the world. In all his work, from his own plays and adaptations, from the productions he has directed to the novels he wrote, Wajdi Mouawad expresses the conviction that “art bears witness to human existence through the prism of beauty.” He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours for his work. He is currently Artistic Director of Théatre de la Colline—théâtre national in Paris.

Linda Gaboriau

Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and ­produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a ­literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed ­numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.

Excerpt

2. The first night after the massacre

A hospital room. A nurse enters.

Nurse. Sorry. Visiting hours are over. You have to leave now. Until seven tomorrow morning.

Wahida. I’m sorry, I don’t speak Hebrew.

Nurse. It’s eight o’clock. You have to leave now. Until seven tomorrow morning.

Wahida. Will you call me if he wakes up in the night?

Nurse. Do we know where to reach you?

Wahida. I lost my phone. You can reach me on Eitan’s phone or at the Paradise Hotel. Lions’ Gate.

Nurse. You should move closer to the hospital. The army might close off the Muslim Quarter.

Wahida. Can I stay here?

Nurse. It’s not allowed.

Wahida. Just tonight.

Nurse. I’m sorry. The entire floor is occupied by victims of the attack. Many of them will die tonight. The first night after an attack separates the living from the dead. You couldn’t handle it. No one can. So we limit the number of people present. Otherwise, we’d fall apart, too. The days ahead are going to be difficult. You have to get some rest. You have to sleep.

Wahida. I can’t sleep. I replay the scene in my head as soon as I’m alone. I close my eyes and it all comes back, the bridge, the people, the heat, the sun, customs, the body search, an endless loop of images until the explosion.

Nurse. Were you together?

Wahida. They had separated us. That’s what saved me and probably saved him too. If they hadn’t decided to search me, both of us probably would have died on that bus to Jordan. But when the truck attacked, I was still being interrogated. Eitan had told me, I’ll wait for you, and we were separated. I didn’t see it happen. I was with a woman soldier who was body-?searching me when the explosion took place. A horrendous vomiting followed by the smell of burnt flesh. I had never seen so many dead bodies.

Nurse. Are you alone in Israel?

Wahida. Yes.

Nurse. Where does his family live?

Wahida. Berlin.

Nurse. Have theybeen notified?

Wahida. I’m not the right person to contact them.

Nurse. They have to be notified. Where are you from?

Wahida. New York.

Nurse. Contact his parents. That’s the first thing to do. You can’t face this alone. What’s your name?

Wahida. Wahida.

Eitan. Wahida?

Nurse. My name is Sigal. Here.

She hands wahida a tablet.

This will help you sleep. If Eitan wakes up, I’ll call you. I promise.

The nurse exits.

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