Nir Paldi on Ballad of the Burning Star

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by Nir Paldi, compiled and edited by Carly Maga

The co-creator, co-writer, and lead performer of Ballad of the Burning StarNir Paldi, has spoken often about the show, from its premiere at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival through its ensuing worldwide tours. Here are some quotes we’ve found to shine some light on key aspects of the show, which uses a cabaret and chorus to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using Paldi’s personal stories, the real stories of others, and historical events.

  • On his conflicted feelings while growing up in Israel: “Ever since I was a young child, I felt this lingering pain and disappointment, this anger that what is going on is so stupid. But I could never define what I felt was right without a second later feeling completely different… I would feel very angry about the Israeli politicians and people who are not doing anything, and feel very guilty. But a second later, I would feel very angry at the Palestinians who are destroying opportunities and exploding buses. But a second later, I would think, ‘Missiles are falling on Israel, why wouldn’t they attack back?’ These voices drove me slightly insane.” (Source: The Guardian)
  • On the use of drag and cabaret: “Being a man in drag gives you the freedom to say whatever it is you want to say, to be very direct and rude and flamboyant. I chose cabaret because of its ability to involve the audience – to bring them into the story and then in some way betray them and play with them.” (Source: Cherwell)
  • On the intense reactions to the show: During one performance at the Edinburgh Fringe, a man grabbed Star’s dress and shouted angrily after mishearing a line. Star defused the situation, saying “Is that right sweetheart? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts but I have a show to get on with…” instead of discussing it further. Paldi says, “If we’d wanted to have a debate, I could’ve phoned people and said, ‘let’s talk’ – but actually I took years to construct this thing, to communicate something very specific.” Luckily, we have Star to keep moods calm, he says. “She protects us – me and the audience.” (Source: AYoungerTheatre.com)
  • On what he hopes audiences will take away: “For the tour – well, I want people to leave the theatre feeling thrilled, captivated and excited by the theatrical experience they went through, but also disturbed by what the piece is dealing with, by the reality I grew up with and one that still persists today. I’m hoping that somewhere within the darkness of this piece, people will be able to find some hope as well.” (Source: The North Wall Arts Centre)
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