Rolla Bahsous and Tales of a City by the Sea

“Tales of a City by the Sea,” a play written by Samah Sabawi and directed by Rahaf Fasheh, explores life in Gaza during the 2008 war. Rami, a Palestinian-American doctor, meets and falls in love with Jomana, a Palestinian living in a refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip. Rami and Jomana’s love story is intertwined with challenges and the harsh reality that those living under occupation face. The play unites “poetry, comedy, and tragedy” to explore “the love between those who have choices, and those who do not.”

As the Dramaturg for this production, Sheridan’s own Prof. Rolla Bahsous had the chance to apply her graduate research to study the script closely and help provide the cast, design crew, and director with contextual and historical knowledge to keep elements of the play accurate. Specifically, according to Rolla, “We wanted to make sure that the costumes, set, props, and acting honoured the innocent victims of this war because a lot of the obstacles our characters face on stage are based on real stories and real events that happened in Gaza.” 

Rolla’s graduate research in Performance, Theatre, and Drama studies at the University of Toronto explored how Palestinian artists use the stage to recapture conceptual ground lost amidst the physical loss of land. She truly believes that through art, we can give a voice to the voiceless and tell stories that prove that in the most hopeless situations, “we have on this earth what makes life worth living” (Mahmoud Darwish).