Skip Links

2008 Event Media Release - In Spitting Distance

Issued 18 August 2008


Directed by: Ofira Henig
Performed by: Khalifa Natour
Written by: Taher Najib

“Natour gives a superb performance, generating a real sense of passion for his homeland, and a determination towards further freedom and understanding.” The Times, UK

Sydney Opera House Adventures 08 present the Australian premiere of In Spitting Distance, a funny and moving insight into our post 9/11 world, 6 –18 October, Playhouse.

In this one hour virtuoso solo performance, Khalifa Natour plays an actor who, on his way to the theatre one evening, is stricken by the irony of performing on stage while violent drama unfolds outside on the streets of Ramallah. He flees to Paris. But the desertion feels like a betrayal of his homeland, and he decides to return. Parisian authorities, though, are alarmed at the prospect of an Arab with an Israeli passport flying to Tel Aviv - on the first anniversary of September 11.

If the normality of life is war, what remains of normal life?

Performed with fearless black humour and based on a farcical and true-life experience of writer, Taher Najib,  the play is an insightful look at ordinary lives touched by present-day conflict. An encounter with airport security prompts a reflection of the struggles experienced by those whose countries are under occupation.

“When your country is continually being wrestled from beneath you, the only true homeland is the pillow where you lay your head.” Time Out London

On the streets of Ramallah, spitting - a banal, instinctive action - is both an act of aggression and a vivid response to the occupation, an ejection of the misery and hatred that has seeped into every corner of ordinary people's daily existence.  The gesture of the Palestinian youths as they spit on the street all day long seems to signal just how close war, as a normal fact of life, is to them. In spitting distance.

“With subtle direction by Ofira Henig, and a masterful performance from Khalifa Natour, In Spitting Distance manages to breathe life into hard-hitting issues often depersonalised by media coverage… This is a must see.” Metro,UK

In Spitting Distance won first prize at the prestigious TheaterNetto Festival in Tel Aviv. Renowned theatre director, Peter Brook attended these performances in Israel and was so moved by the exemplary testimony of civic theatre and the honest, heartfelt and deeply personal narrative, he bought the production to his Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris.

After a successful run in Paris and given Brook’s imprimatur, the production has since been staged at prestigious venues and festivals across the world including London’s Barbican and Romaeuropa.

Khalifa Natour is an acclaimed actor in the international theatre scene and won the best actor award at the 2006 TheatroNetto Festival in Tel Aviv for his performance of In Spitting Distance. He also starred in the critically acclaimed film The Band’s Visit (2006) which opened recently in Sydney. He regularly performs with the Palestinian National Theatre of East Jerusalem, the only Palestinian repertory company and in Ramallah with Al Kasaba Theatre.

Ofira Henig is one Israeli most acclaimed theatre directors and is currently Artistic Director of Herzliya New Ensemble. She has been artistic director of the Israel Festival, Jerusalem from 2002 to 2004 and Artistic Director of the Jerusalem Khan Theatre.  In the last two years she directed the Lab, a space for theatre experimentation in Jerusalem.

Playwright, Taher Najib is also an actor and director. In 2005 he represented Palestine and Israel in the Royal Court's international residency for playwrights, where he was writing In Spitting Distance. He is about to begin work on a new film by Tawfik Abu Wael, a Palestinian filmmaker who won the Cannes prize for Thirst two years ago.

Performed in Arabic with English surtitles.

Season Details
Dates: 6 – 18 October
Venue: Playhouse, Sydney Opera House
Tickets: $48/$38, Under 30s $30
Bookings: 9250 7444 /


Help support Australia's greatest icon today with a personalised tile!


Sydney Opera House




Various Venues

Buy Your Tileown our house_180x230
Skip Links