ONLINE — Theater can accomplish many goals.  Sometimes theater merely entertains, sometimes it distracts, and sometimes it elucidates a situation or an historical event.  In that vein, In The Now Productions has partnered with Ashtar Theatre to present The Gaza Monologues, a virtual theater piece now playing on YouTube.

Show is available on YouTube.The Gaza Monologues was created in 2010 when Ashtar Theatre partnered with a group of young people who had survived the Gaza bombing of 2008-09 with the goal of providing trauma therapy and a creative outlet for these young people.  The piece was to be performed at the United Nations in November of 2010, but due to the blockade on Gaza, they were unable to travel to New York to perform their monologues.  The piece was subsequently performed by young people from around the world.  This past year, Ashtar Theatre put out a request for theater companies to perform the work in honor of the International Day of Solidarity on November 29, 2023.  This production brings together 36 artists from around the country mostly with ties to the Utah theater community to perform the monologues.

Austin Archer as Tamer Najem.

The first thing that is apparent is that things have not improved in the decade since this was first written.  The stories are touching, tragic, and heartbreaking. In each case, the child who wrote the monologue is shown, with their name, birthdate, and location.  What follows is the selected actor portraying that child’s story. In the current climate of what is happening in the Middle East, it can be convenient to assign the roles of “good” guys and “bad” guys, but clearly it is never that easy.  These stories show love, and empathy, and hope in spite of the devastating threat to life and limb. These stories show children dealing with death and fear. They are hopeful of a better future but are still dealing with the absolute horror of never knowing when the next attack may come their way.

Latoya Cameron as Wi’am El Dieri.

This is a very hard piece of theater to watch.  At over 2 hours, there many difficult stories to take in.  But as with every story we hear from another person’s perspective, we learn more about them and their culture. We learn that we may share many of the same hopes and dreams, but our experiences will differ wildly in how those hopes and dreams may manifest or not, as the case may be. The actors who portray the children bring life to the written dialog.  No director is named, and while each actor is credited at the start of each monologue, none of them stands out over the others in this piece.  They are all excellent in their portrayals and give voice to these children and their lives.

Bijan Hosseini as Ashraf Al Sossi.

I offer a warning that many of the stories contain imagery of violence and graphic details. But through these difficult elements, you may find yourself learning something that you never know.  One such detail that came out is several stories that was new to me was the fact that the Israeli Defense would actually make calls to homes to tell them that they had 10 minutes, 5 minutes, or even 30 seconds to evacuate their home before it would be bombed, It seems horrific to me that something like that would be done to a civilian area, and while it could be argued that it was a courtesy, it seems to me the height of arrogance to do something like that when you are ostensibly attacking the supposed perpetrators of attacks by targeting civilians.

Micki Martinez as Heba Daoud.

I highly recommend viewing this work, even if you need to take it in stages. It is available for free on In The Now Productions YouTube page and is a powerful piece of theater.  It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is an important work, and one that should be seen by as many people as possible.

In The Now Productions presentation of Ashtar Theatre’s The Gaza Monologues is available to view on YouTube at  It is free to view.