Good stuff online: Lincoln Center Theater Review’s OSLO issue

June 16, 2017

Lincoln Center Theater’s in-house journal, LCT Review, consistently assembles high-quality interviews, excerpts, and tangential background information to illuminate the plays that the theater produces. The issue devoted to J. T. Rogers’s Oslo, which just won the Tony Award for best play of the season, is an especially good example. You can pick up a copy of the journal in the lobby of Lincoln Center Theater (you can toss in a “suggested donation” if you like) or read it online here.

The play dramatizes the real-life story of two Norwegian diplomats who stage-managed the secret negotiations between Israel and Palestine that led to the Oslo Accords — a brief, probably never-to-be-repeated moment of international diplomacy that led to a famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat in 1990. The play builds to that shining moment of hope, and the audience is left both with a feeling of joy at the sense of possibility and a sinking feeling of hopelessness, because we know that we are no closer than ever to seeing a resolution of the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The journal goes way beyond duplicating the themes and facts of the play but surrounds it with alternate perspectives. “You in the Wrong Place,” a beautiful piece of writing by Naama Goldstein, captures tiny moments of the author’s journey through uncomfortable shifts in her identities as both Israeli and outsider. Raja Shehadeh’s “The Peace That Ended Peace” arms Oslo audiences with a grain of salt with which to measure the sweet conclusion at which the play arrives. Milbry Polk’s “The Love of Desert Lands” introduces Gertrude Bell, the extraordinary British woman who helped organize the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks, sometimes called the Mother of Iraq. And Chris Voss’s “The Art of Negotiation” offers practical advice useful not just for international hostage crises but for everyday life:

“Whether it’s in the office or around the family dinner table, don’t avoid honest, clear conflict. Engaging in it will get you the best car price, the higher salary, and the largest donation. It will also save your marriage, your friendship, and your family. One can be an exceptional negotiator, and a great person, only by both listening and speaking clearly and empathetically, by treating one’s counterparts — and oneself — with dignity and respect, and, most of all, by being honest about what one wants and what one can — and cannot — do. Every negotiation, every conversation, every moment of life is a series of small conflicts that, managed well, can rise to creative beauty. Embrace them.”


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