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I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother

I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother

Issue 66 March 2010

By Amir Nizar Zuabi


Review by Fatema Zehra


 ‘Set within a politically charged context, the play is full of haunting, dream-like poetry and possesses a keen awareness of life’s fragile ephemerality.’

This Palestinian work, written and directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi is a heart-felt memorial to the uprooted people of Baissamoon, Al-Ramlah and Haifa. Looking through the eccentric eyes of the disabled Yusuf, and played through the love story of Yusuf’s brother, Ali and the love of his life, Nada. The play deals with the disasters following the ending of the British mandate in Palestine in the May of 1948. It re-tells the story of those driven away from their homes, restating old grievance of a 60-year old wound that hasn’t healed. Performed in both English and Arabic, Zuabi’s work is a poetic tale of history, memory and love. A testament to his forbearers, this young Palestinian presents an account of the loss and separation felt by the people of Baisamoon, cleverly entwined in the troubles and conflicts of Ali, Nada and Yusuf.  Nada’s father refuses to let them marry, because Ali’s brother Yusuf is ‘odd’ and regarded as a genetic liability. The play is laced with beautiful poetry and haunting verses sung by the water-women. It is an intense reminder of the deep soul of the villages and the haunting presence of the lives lost.  Zuabi’s approach is poetic and sorrowful rather than revengeful and full of hatred. Although dealing with the conflict from one side, rather than explicitly partisan, it is a reminder of the fatal consequence of history. 

I am Yusuf and This is My Brother premiered in Al Midan theatre in Haifa in 2009, and has been touring ever since. I Am Yusuf is the first play from the new touring theatre company based in Haifa, ShiberHur, meaning ‘Within a Few Inches 

of Freedom’.


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