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Many significant things related to the Middle East and its relations with Western societies happened Monday, some more significant than others.Not an earth-shaking event, you might comment, but as I watched with fascination the 45-minute performance, followed by a discussion between people involved in translating, directing and hosting it, I was struck by the tremendous power that cultural displays have to create appreciation and respect among Americans and Arabs, who otherwise spend much time mocking, abusing and killing each other.Written by a Syrian author in the 1990s, it captures human emotions and hypocrisy, social constraints, and political power relations that are reflected in perhaps every country in the world. But this cultural and creative power that affirms universal human attributes is virtually unknown outside the Arab world.This play and three others were published Monday in English in the book "Four Plays from Syria: Saadallah Wannous" (edited by Marvin Carlson and Safi Mahfouz, published by the Martin E. Segal Theater Center).
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