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“Scorched” by Wajdi Mouawad, directed by Michael Najjar at the University of Oregon. Photo courtesy of Ariel Ogden.
Articles, Reviews, Volume 4

On Michael Najjar’s Direction of Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad

On Michael Najjar’s Direction of 
Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad
A Theatre Review by Torange Yeghiazarian
Arab Stages, Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2016)
©2016 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publication

 Civil war is complicated. It is by definition the rupture of a nation, the killing of brother by brother, turning neighbors into enemies. The Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) lasted fifteen years; it resulted in the deaths of 150,000, and the displacement of over a million. Artists have responded to the atrocities and loss of war, as well as hope for a peaceful future, for decades. But perhaps no other play captures the twisted insanity of civil war better than Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad. It is uniquely successful in telling the unwieldy and messy story of that war because of its laser sharp focus on one woman’s story: Nawal, and her transformation from a village girl in love, to an assassin, to a mother silenced by her past. By tracking her journey and unlocking the secret of her silence, we come face to face with the bizarre and inhuman impacts of not-so civil a war.

In March 2016, I had the pleasure of seeing a production of Scorched directed by Michael Najjar at University of Oregon, in Eugene. Like the playwright, Najjar is of Lebanese descent. Mouawad is born to a Christian family and Najjar to a Druze family. Had their parents not emigrated from Lebanon, “It is entirely possible we would have been in opposing militias fighting, and perhaps killing, one another.” says Najjar in his program note. It is a sobering realization and one that I imagine fueled his artistic vision in directing Scorched.

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