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2000 - Saloni M goes South

Ramez Tabit

Ramez, a VCA graduate, was born in Lebanon and migrated to Australia at the age of thirteen. Since the completion of his Diploma in 1990, he has performed for the stage, film and television.

Ramez turned to writing in 1994 and since then he has written Empty Shells, funded by the Australia Council in 1997, But You Don't Look Middle Eastern?", commissioned by the Australian Arabic Council for the international year of tolerance in 1995, Mervin M Mervin, produced by La Mama Theatre in 1985, and currently Ramez is completing a Vic Arts commission for The Muslim Sinner and rehearsing to perform in a comedy Just Love, for the Fringe Festival 2000.

Ramez is a committee management member on the Melbourne Workers Theatre company board and a MEAA member.

  Ramez Tabit


As an Australian artist, I am a first generation migrant, but one who has come to Australia at an age young enough to be well assimilated in Australian society yet old enough to maintain cultural background and language of the old country. I believe this gives me an ideal point of view to contribute toward the process of breaking down stereotypes, advancing contribution to cross-cultural understanding and interaction, and further diminishing inter-cultural misunderstandings and bigotry. And more specifically to the Arts Industry - a contribution to new material that accurately reflects the cultures of the real face of Australian communities other than the mainstream and provides more employment opportunities for artists of non-English speaking backgrounds who are so often typecast and denied opportunities that mainstream Australians continually enjoy.

from Empty Shells

a play by Ramez Tabit

Scene 3 - Differences

Tony and Ahmed enter from different directions.

They are excited and full of news.

Ahmed:     Did you hear what happened? Christian Maronite stopped a bus full of Palestinians and shot them all dead. All twenty-seven of them.

Tony:        It was a revenge attack, because earlier on Palestinians shot four Christian Maronites in Ain Rammanah.

Ahmed:    Twenty-seven people killed and only because they were Palestinians.

  Ramez in Empty Shells
Ramez in Empty Shells

Tony:       It was a revenge attack!

Ahmed:    Yeah, but the Palestinians killed four, not twenty-seven.

Tony:      They shouldn't have killed the four in the first place.

Ahmed:    They weren't even Armed, they just stopped this bus because there were Palestinians on it. Got them out and shot them all dead.

Tony:      They were Armed.

Ahmed:    They were not.

Tony:       They were. They were even warned not to drive through the area.

Ahmed:    So you kill them for driving through the area?

Tony:       They were on the bus waving their guns around and intimidating the neighbourhood.

Ahmed:    They were not.

Tony:       I heard it on the radio.

Ahmed:    The station I listened to said they were civilians on the bus, not Armed ones.

Tony:       It's not what the Voice of Lebanon said.

Ahmed:    That's what the Voice of the people said.

Tony:       Why do you support them anyway, you're not Palestinians.

Ahmed:    They're mostly Muslims and Arabs like us. Of course I'm going to support them.

Tony:      Maronites are Arabs too. How come you don't support them?

Ahmed:   The Maronites keep insisting that Lebanon is a European country.

Tony:      Come on Ahmed, not all of them.

Ahmed:   Why do you speak French?

Tony:      We all learn French at school.

Ahmed:    Us Sunnis, Shiites, Druze or Christian Greek Orthodox for that matter, learn French as a second language. You learn the culture. You call yourself French.

Tony:      I'm not French, I'm an Arab.

Ahmed:   So are the Palestinians. How come you don't support them?

Tony:      They make trouble with Israel and Israel picks on Lebanon because we protect them.

Ahmed:    If war does start, whose side are you going to be on?

Tony:      The Christian side I guess.

Ahmed:   What do you mean the Christian side? If you support them you'd have to move away from here.

Tony:      I don't want to leave.

Ahmed:   Then you can't support the Maronites.

Tony:      I don't support the fighting.

Ahmed:   They don't care. They'll look at what side you support.

Tony:      I'm a Christian Maronite, I can't change that.

Ahmed:   You're part of this neighbourhood.

Tony:     I know.

Ahmed:  You should support this town.

Tony:     I do.

Ahmed:  Aren't you proud of being an Arab?

Tony:     I am. But I'm a Christian, I have to be on their side. I can't turn my back on them,

Ahmed:  But you can on other Arabs?

Tony:     No. How should I know, I never thought about this before.

Ahmed:   Nor have I, but you'll have to choose now.

Tony:     Why do I have to choose?

Ahmed:   Because there are more Muslims here.

Tony:      But I don't care about politics.

Ahmed:   It doesn't matter.

Tony:      Suddenly every one is talking about Muslims and Christians hating each other, what happened?

Ahmed:   (Exasperated) You know what happened. The Palestinians killed four. The Christians killed twenty-seven. Twenty-seven civilians.

Tony:      They shouldn't have killed the four in the first place.

(Pause.)    They stare at each other.

© Ramez Tabit 1997

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