Interweaving her history as a Lebanese-American with the experience of family members
in Palestine, and her time as an actress in the Jewish musical Fiddler on the Roof,
Sophiea strung together a narrative both personal and political.
The show drew parallels between the experience of Palestinian refugees and the exodus
of the Jews from Russia in the iconic story of Fiddler on the Roof, where Sophiea had played the oldest daughter Tzietel on Broadway tours, in order
to highlight that suffering is common to all. The performance also coincided with
the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership on Friday.
Humanizing the Arab-American experience, Sophiea, who both wrote and performed the
piece, told her story through the voices of her grandmother Sitti, and family members
in Lebanon and Haifa, Israel. During a powerful moment in the show Sophiea, playing
her cousin, exclaims, “Just once I want to say I am Palestinian, and not have you
A talk-back after the performance delved into Sophiea’s creative process and the struggles
she endured writing the monologues. Sophiea called the writing exercise therapy.
“It has broken down my prejudices as well,” said Sophiea.
The piece also resonated deeply with the audience. Maria Jose Aldana, a first year
MA candidate in the International Development program, praised the performance through
tears. “I felt what she was feeling. To be brave enough to share your vulnerability,
it does something powerful,” said Aldana.
For The Middle East Discussion Group, the event was a huge success. “Events like this,
and the dialogue, help in educating the community, which is part of our goal,” said
Clifton Martin, an MEDG board member and second year International Studies student. The cultural
event was new territory for the group, who normally host academic panels and discussions.
Sophiea hopes the show will continue to tour universities and plans to go wherever
people want to hear her story.
-Sarah Crozier, MA Candidate International Development