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Everyone remembers the stunning and iconic moment in 1993 when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on the South Lawn of the White House. They were “two old warriors who personified the conflict between their peoples,” wrote The New York Times, “sealing the first agreement between [them] to end their conflict and share the holy land they both call home.” But among the many questions that laced the hope of the moment was that of Norway’s role. How did such high-profile negotiations come to be held secretly in a castle in the middle of a forest outside Oslo?
Decades later, during the run of LCT’s acclaimed 2011 production of Blood and Gifts, director Barlett Sher introduced his friend Terje Rød-Larsen, a Norwegian diplomat, to playwright J.T. Rogers. Over drinks, Larsen shared that he and his wife, Mona Juul, also a Norwegian diplomat and now Norway’s Ambassador to the UN, had covertly organized the back-channel talks between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords — and Rogers knew he had his next play.
A darkly funny and sweeping new work, OSLO is about a group of Israeli, Palestinian, Norwegian and American men and women struggling to overcome their fears, mistrust and hatred of each other. As he did with such wit and intelligence in Blood and Gifts, Rogers once again presents a deeply personal story set against a complex historical canvas: a story about the individuals behind world history and their all too human ambitions.