Manchester Jewish Museum

By Jessica Litwak
My Heart is in the East



Manchester Jewish Museum's former synagogue


Full £12
Concession £11
M8 Member FREE

The Manchester premiere of a new play by Jessica Litwak about the vital importance of language and imagination to both who we are and how together we might be. Presented by Az Theatre in association with The HEAT Collective and The Fence Network.

“My Heart is in the East”  is a play that takes place in two realms: Present-day Iraq and Medieval Spain where spoken word poetry contests contributed to communication and Muslims and Jews lived in a state of coexistence and cultural exchange.

In New York a Jewish American professor (Miri) receives an invitation to Basra, Iraq to lead a series of puppet building workshops. An Iraqi Muslim (Ishmael), a street poet who is currently employed as a mercenary gravedigger is hired to be her translator.

Their relationship is both discordant and interdependent as they travel to Beirut and finally find themselves in the anteroom of the large poetry contest 1,000 years earlier in Cordoba, Spain.

At the core of the story is a rich and complex relationship between two actors, the characters they play and the language they speak.

“This play is a celebration of language. The language creates the space. I understood that people could live on poetry.” – Audience feedback. 


The event is FREE for all M8 Members. Click here to register as M8 Member.

The event is suitable for people aged 15+. Please note that the performance contains political themes and strong language.

Doors open at 6PM and the museum’s Cafe will be serving food and refreshments before the show.

The play will last about 60 minutes and will be followed by a live poetry slam with audience members and a discussion on interfaith.

The team will also run a poetry/conversation workshop with the museum’s participatory groups and local communities the evening before, to encourage interfaith discussion and sharing of stories. You can read more about this meeting here.

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The My Heart is in the East team has been assembled across the UK, USA, France and Italy, drawing on the extensive international experience of both partner companies and the individual artists involved.

Jessica Litwak
Playwright, Performer: Miri, Aviva

Litwak is a U.S. based playwright, actor, coach, drama therapist, puppet builder, and recognized leader in the field of socially engaged theatre. Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway and on stages across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published by Amazon, No Passport Press, Smith and Krause and The New York Times. She has performed on stages around the world and has served as faculty at academic institutions in the U.S., India, and the Czech Republic. She has an MFA in theatre and a PhD in theatre as a vehicle for personal and social change. She is a core member of Theatre Without Borders and a Fulbright Scholar.

Jessica founded The H.E.A.T. Collective in order to coalesce her practice and workshops, events, and productions that bring together the practices of Healing, Education, and Activism through Theatre. She serves as Artistic Director.

Fred Maâmar Fortas
Performer: Ishmael, Abu

Fred, based in Paris, was born in Algeria and grew up in Marseille, France. Some of his theatre work includes “Omar” at the London New Play Festival at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. This was “Jitterbug” at the Arcola Theatre “Marilyn & Ella, Backstage at The Mocambo” for BBC Radio 4 “She Twirls Pistols” at the Eurotopiques Festival in Lille, France. Other theatre projects include Shakespeare “All’s Well That Ends Well” (Theatre Nord-Ouest, Paris) and an adaptation of Brecht’s “The Exception and The Rule”. Fred is fluent French, English, German and Arabic.

Director: Jonathan Meth
Creative Associate and Interfaith Consultant: Rosalind Parker
Producer: Anna Oggero
Video Editor/ Media Artist: Adrian D. Cameron
Composer and Oud Player: Lazhar Ghozlane

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