by Brian Coats, Education Programs Associate
NOTE: This Play Guide may contain mild spoilers about the story of the show. If you like to be completely surprised by the play, you may wish to wait until after seeing it to read the Play Guide.
February 6 – March 3, 2019
Terje Rod-Larsen: as the Director of the Fafo Institute for Applied Social Sciences, he orchestrates peace talks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israeli government with the assistance of his wife, Mona.
Mona Juul: the wife of Terje and an official in the Norway Foreign Ministry, who narrates details to the audience as she helps to orchestrate peace talks with her husband.
Johan Jorgen Holst: as the Norwegian Foreign Minister, he is skeptical of Terje and Mona’s plan to orchestrate peace talks between the PLO and Israel.
Marianne Heiberg: the wife of Holst, who works with Terje at the Fafo Institute.
Jan Egeland: the Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway, who more readily accepts Terje and Mona’s plan than Holst.
Ahmed Qurie: also known as Abu Ala, he is the Finance Minister for the Palestine Liberation Organization who attends the peace talks in Norway on behalf of Arafat.
Hassan Asfour: an official PLO liaison who attends the peace talks in Norway with Qurie.
Uri Savir: the Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who is brought in to negotiate with the PLO representatives as the peace talks begin to escalate
Shimon Peres: The Israeli Foreign Minister, known as “the Father” during the peace talks
Yossi Beilin: The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, known as “the Son” during the peace talks
Yair Hirschfeld: a senior professor of Economics at the University of Haifa who represents the Israeli government on behalf of Beilin during early negotiations
Ron Pundak: a junior professor of Economics at the University of Haifa who, with Hirschfeld, represents the Israeli government on behalf of Beilin
Joel Singer: as a legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, he is tasked with revising the Declaration of Principles that is created during the peace talks.
Toril and Finn Grandal: the married housekeeper and groundskeeper, respectfully, of Borregaard Manor, where the peace talks are held.
Thor Bjornevog: a senior officer with the Norwegian Police Intelligence Service who is tasked with monitoring the peace talks at Borregaard Manor
Trond Gundersen: an officer with the Norwegian Police Intelligence Service who works with Thor at Borregaard Mano
What's the Story?
In Oslo, Norway in 1993, Terje Rod-Larsen, the Director of the Fafo Institute in Norway, and his wife, Mona Juul, an official in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, make plans to host negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization after a visit to the Middle East. Soon they are joined in Norway by Ahmed Qurie and Hassan Asfour, representing the PLO, and Yair Hirschfeld and Ron Pundak, two academics representing Israel.
In accordance with his teachings, Terje creates an atmosphere in which the members of the opposing sides are able to gather together on a personal level outside of the negotiating room. As the men join each other for dinner, drinks, and conversation, they begin to recognize the humanity in each other, and the similarities between them.
Filled with humor and biting political drama, J.T. Rogers’ Oslo reveals the true events that led to the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in Washington, DC in September of 1993.
The Dramatics of Political Negotiations
In Oslo, his Tony Award-winning play, J.T. Rogers explores the rich connection and divide (simultaneously) of humanity and politics. In his work, he brings to life the drama of character - with characters based on real-life people - and the drama of political negotiations and a search for peace. In an article written for the New York Times in 2016, Rogers himself states:
"As a playwright, I look to tell stories that are framed against great political rupture. I am obsessed with putting characters onstage who struggle with, and against, cascading world events — and who are changed forever through that struggle. While journalism sharpens our minds, the theater can expand our sense of what it means to be human. It is where we can come together in a communal space to hear ideas that grip us, surprise us — even infuriate us — as we learn of things we didn’t know. For me, that is a deeply, thrillingly, political act."
He is given the perfect environment for this kind of dual exploration in the atmosphere created by Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norwegian diplomat who believes that only through understanding each other as human beings can two opposing sides come together to solve problems and find peace. Rogers met Larsen in 2012, and researched the events surrounding the Oslo Peace Accords extensively. As the play reveals, Larsen gathered members of the Israeli Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization together in a private house outside of Oslo. There the men negotiated throughout the day, and at night, they dined and drank and spoke to each other. The more they talked, the more they began to understand each other - the needs, desires, and expectations that each man had.
For the audience, the drama is heightened as they begin to know the characters outside of their political positions. Over waffles and drinks, the men laugh and joke and connect in a way that they cannot as representatives at a negotiating table. As the world outside of the Oslo manor grows darker and more tense, the men are held together by their personal friendship and their collective need to move forward, and the audience gets to follow them on this emotional journey.
Join us in the Browning Mainstage for this rich, dramatic, and human inside look through one of the most intense political processes in history!