The Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon accused Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad of “normalization with Israel,” in a statement published on April 3 and picked up by the Hezbollah-affiliated daily al-Akhbar.

According to information provided to This Is Beirut, the smear campaign against Mouawad is also affecting the Lebanese production team, particularly the actors, who are receiving threats, being targeted by defamatory language on social media and being accused of treason.

A person close to the organization talked to This Is Beirut about the issue. They wished to remain anonymous for security reasons and stressed that the boycott call some made against him is “unfair and unjustified.” They pointed out that the play Journée de Noces chez les Cromagnons (Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons), presented in Beirut in its world premiere, “has absolutely nothing to do with Israel.”

“Wajdi Mouawad is the director and playwright, but the organizers are collaborating with the Colline Theater which is a public theater subsidized by the French Ministry of Culture,” they added.

Mouawad is mainly criticized for his collaboration with Israeli actors in his play Tous des Oiseaux (All Birds), performed in France in 2017 and then in Tel Aviv in 2018. A play supported by the Israeli Embassy in Paris as part of the “Saison culturelle croisée France-Israël” (France-Israel Cross-Cultural Season), organized by the French Ministry of Culture.

It should be noted that this work, the actions of which take place against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was banned in Germany for being considered anti-Semitic.

The Boycott Campaign “has sent direct notification to the relevant authorities to put an end” to the theatrical performance project in Beirut, calling on the artists involved in the work “to withdraw from the production.”

“Lebanon will not allow normalization with Israel, nor will it accept becoming the theater for the laundering of the enemy’s crimes,” the statement read.

The organization’s close associate called for “clarity and honesty, recognition that Wajdi Mouawad, who is considered today as one of the most important playwrights in the world, is in no way hostile to the Palestinian cause, and that he practices his craft with conscience, professionalism and independence, in collaboration with local artists and Lebanese playwrights.”

They added, “The Lebanese public, which is sufficiently mature and capable of discernment, is looking forward to the premiere of this show, whose cast is made up of Lebanese from all walks of life.” The play will take place in early May at the Monnot Theater.

It’s worth noting that plays by Wajdi Mouawad have already been presented in Lebanon, including Incendies (Scorched) at the Al-Madina Theater and Seuls (The Lonely Ones) at the Monnot Theater.

Wajdi Mouawad’s play Journée de noces chez les Cromagnons (Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons) is scheduled to run at the Monnot Theater from April 30 to May 19. This tragi-comic work tells the story of a family who, despite being bombarded, prepares for the wedding of their eldest daughter to her fiancé… who doesn’t exist.

Author, director, playwright, actor and filmmaker, Wajdi Mouawad, 55, is recognized as one of the most unifying artists in contemporary theater.

He spent his childhood in Lebanon, his adolescence in France and his young adult years in Quebec before settling in France. Trained at the National Theatre School of Canada, he has directed several theater companies in Canada and France.

He was Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre French Theatre in Ottawa from 2007 to 2012. He has been the director of the Colline National Theatre in Paris since 2016. His mandate was recently renewed until 2027.