Published in The Seventh Wave


SYNOPSIS: “Imagine the City” is a science fiction stage play that feels like an illumination of the darker parts of Beirut’s soul and its decaying society in crisis. From a social commentary point of view, this play is an ironically dystopian take on Beirut’s metaphorical future. Mona, a frustrated Beiruti, waits by the sea port to be evacuated to a better place by the Good Samaritan. But her escapism plan is disrupted by Lisa, the flying robot, who seems to have knowledge of both the past and the future. Through the supernatural connection between Mona and Lisa, we are often confused about whether the city is floating or even existing. “Imagine the City” recollects the cityscape and its memory through collective existentialism.

Mona and Lisa are the inseparable portrait of a decomposed Beirut. Just like in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “Mona Lisa,” the characters in the play pose in front of an imaginary landscape. Act 1 of this three-act play feels like a short-lived moment in Mona’s life that ends with an ordeal blown out of rational proportions. The wave at the end of Act 1 is seen again in Act 2, as a signpost within a conscience system wherein Mona’s mind is being uploaded and her memories are being altered by a group of robots identical to Lisa. We discover that they are watching Mona’s memories while downloading and erasing data of their choice.

What will Mona do when she wakes up to find herself trapped in an alternate consciousness? Will she be able to recollect her memory of the city and that of the humans who make it?


'SEW A SIDE' by Darine Hotait

Two ludicrous sisters wake up to find their territory being trespassed by a ghost neighbor. 
Even though the evidence is missing, the two sisters decide to take action. 

THE OLDER SISTER - A naive woman trying to pass herself off as assertive and restrained.
THE YOUNGER SISTER - A giddy, boisterous woman and an intuitive agitator.


It's a fresh spring morning. Green and purple grapes cover the lawn. A clothesline extends horizontally from one end of the stage to the other. Clean laundry is tightly squashed to the left quarter section of the clothesline while on the remaining section laundry is neatly stretched out, where shirts, socks, underwear, pants, and linens flap gently. 

A twenty-foot tall aquarium extends across upstage. A LONE RED FISH roams within. A FISHERMAN sits on a chair throughout the entire play. Next to him, there is a straw basket and a fishing rod with its line suspended inside the aquarium.  THE YOUNGER SISTER enters from the side of the squashed laundry (left stage) carrying a long metal stick in her hand. She is dressed in white cotton nightgown. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Loudly) She did it again.

THE OLDER SISTER enters from the same side. She is also dressed in a similar nightgown. She loses her balance while stepping on the grapes. 

THE OLDER SISTER: (Looking up at the hanging laundry) Damn that woman. Did you see her?

THE YOUNGER SISTER: No. (Using her morning intelligence) How do you know it's a woman?

THE OLDER SISTER: Well, I don't think a man would spend time hanging laundry!

THE OLDER SISTER takes the metal stick and starts sliding the squashed laundry to the opposite side.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Take down her laundry so she learns that we can be bitches like her. 

THE OLDER SISTER: (Angrily) Bitches? 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: I meant mean. 


THE OLDER SISTER: This is the third time she crosses the line. I should go talk to her. (She walks toward the right side of the stage.)

THE YOUNGER SISTER: No, wait. (Lowering her voice) I think she planted mines under her grapes. 

THE OLDER SISTER: Did you see her?


THE OLDER SISTER: How do you know?

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Here. (She points at the line of grapes in the center) No one ever stepped on these grapes. 

THE OLDER SISTER: And that means there are mines beneath?

THE YOUNGER SISTER: I think she is extending toward our side. It is better we put an end to it.

THE OLDER SISTER: So what do we do?



THE YOUNGER SISTER: Don't be silly! 


THE YOUNGER SISTER: I meant innocent.

THE OLDER SISTER: I think we should write her a letter.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Mockingly) That's very nice of you. 

THE OLDER SISTER: If someone slaps you on one cheek...

THE YOUNGER SISTER: He'll be scraping his teeth up off the floor. 

THE OLDER SISTER: Now enough of that. Go get a paper and a pen. 


THE OLDER SISTER: Excuse me. Did you see anyone here earlier?

THE FISHERMAN doesn't move and remains silent. THE YOUNGER SISTER returns with a pen and paper in hand. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: So what do we write?

(THE YOUNGER SISTER sits on the floor as THE OLDER SISTER dictates.)

THE OLDER SISTER: Write: "Dear neighbor,we hope you are doing well. We are very pleased to have you next door."


THE OLDER SISTER: Overall, we have to be diplomatic. Who knows for how long she is going to be here. We don't want it to sound like a warning.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: But we want to warn her that next time...

THE OLDER SISTER: Writer: "We welcome your moving in. And hope that we become good neighbors."

THE YOUNGER SISTER: "So we can borrow onions."

THE OLDER SISTER: "So we can both live in peace next to each other."

THE YOUNGER SISTER: "And if you have mines under your grapes, we have THE BOMB under ours."

THE OLDER SISTER: "We would love you to share the clothesline equally with us. Please don't hesitate to knock on our door."

THE YOUNGER SISTER: "And show us your face, you ugly bitch."

THE OLDER SISTER: "Regards, Your neighbors next door." (Reviews the letter silently.)

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Now what do we do?

THE ODER SISTER: Now we throw it to her side.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: What if she doesn't see it?


THE YOUNGER SISTER: Yeah, but I mean what if? 

THE OLDER SISTER: I said she will. Now take it and toss it to her side. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: No, you do it. 

THE OLDER SISTER: No, you do it. 


THE OLDER SISTER: (Losing her temper) I'm your older sister and I say you do it. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Annoyed) Ouf! Why do I always have to do everything?

THE OLDER SISTER: Because you are younger and you should do as I say. Now do it! 

THE YOUNGER SISTER masterfully folds the paper into an airplane shape and tosses it to the other side. It glides through the air, then lands on the grapes. 

THE OLDER SISTER: Now let's go get some cooking done. 

THE OLDER SISTER and THE YOUNGER SISTER exit. A piano starts playing an adagio. The light grows weak. The set is dark except for a blue light pointing at the aquarium with THE LONE RED FISH roaming within. 


Light grows large again. Laundry hangs on the neighbor's side of the clothesline. THE YOUNGER SISTER enters, carrying a pot, still dressed in the same white nightgown. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Shouting) Did you take down the laundry?

THE OLDER SISTER: (Enters carrying a pot) No.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Suspiciously) I can't believe this. She stole our clothes! 

THE OLDER SISTER: Did you see her? 


THE OLDER SISTER: How do you know she stole our clothes?

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Why do you always insist on being silly in the morning?

THE OLDER SISTER: Watch your words.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Who else, would do it?

THE OLDER SISTER: Well, we can't accuse someone without evidence. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Look. (She points at the letter.) She didn't get your letter. I told you.

THE OLDER SISTER: (Thoughtfully) That's the evidence. She read the letter, then left it on the floor to make us think that she didn't come here, avoiding any suspicions of her being the thief. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (raises her hands towards God, mockingly) God have mercy on my sister's intelligence. I know she's trying too hard. 

THE OLDER SISTER: (To THE FISHERMAN) Excuse me! Did you see who stole our laundry! (No response from THE FISHERMAN) Let's think about what to do. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: I told you from the very beginning but you wouldn't listen.


THE YOUNGER SISTER: We build a wall.

THE OLDER SISTER: Wouldn't that be offensive?

THE YOUNGER SISTER: You keep being naive.

THE OLDER SISTER: None of us has faith until we love for our neighbor what we love for ourselves. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: In this case, your neighbor is a witch.

THE OLDER SISTER: Shh! She might hear us.

(Curtain closes rapidly)


A divider made of piled metallic threads rising to six feet in height, loosely sewn to two metal towers, one on center upper stage, the other center down stage. THE OLDER SISTER sits on a chair, her feet soaking in hot water, a tray of dried lentils on her lap. THE YOUNGER SISTER sews the wall. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Irritated) Can you get on your feet and help me here?

THE OLDER SISTER: (Picking at the lentils) Wasn't this your idea?

THE YOUNGER SISTER: You're talking as if your idea was any better.

THE OLDER SISTER: This wall is going to bring nothing but trouble.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Yes, I forgot he calls you my wimpy dwarf.

THE OLDER SISTER: No he doesn't.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Yes he does. I heard him yesterday. 

THE OLDER SISTER: He wasn't here yesterday.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Making fun) Ah! He sneaks in every night to the roof where you make love in the water tank. 

THE OLDER SISTER: While you are wetting your bed, right? (Bursts into laughter and uncontrollable snorting.)

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Get a hold of your snort! (Imitates snorting sound)

There is a long moment of snorting after the laughter. THE OLDER SISTER tries to get a hold of her uncontrollable snorting. 

THE FISHERMAN slides off his chair and heavily hits the floor. THE OLDER SISTER stops snorting. Both women look back at him. He fixes his chair, sits and aims his fishing road back towards the aquarium. Prolonged silence. 

THE OLDER SISTER: (Standing up) Alright, let's get this done. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: (Pointing) The other end.

The two sisters sew the wall silently. 

THE OLDER SISTER: It's taking a lot of space off our side.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: We could move it a little toward her side. She wouldn't notice. 

THE OLDER SISTER: No. That's not fair.

THE YOUNGER SISTER: Then we lose inches off our side?

THE OLDER SISTER: (Raising an eyebrow) Well! 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: We use this space more than she does anyway, so it's fine. 


THE YOUNGER SISTER: Now let's move it.

They move the wall slightly to the opposing side. 

THE YOUNGER SISTER: I think we can move it a little more. 

They move the all slightly to the opposing side. 

THE OLDER SISTER: Maybe a little more. 

The sisters move the wall even more. The light grows weaker until the set is dark except for a blue light pointing at the aquarium. THE LONE RED FISH roams within. 

A curtain begins to descend slowly. The two sisters keep repeating the last two lines while moving the wall even more, until the curtain is completely closed. 



First published in Rusted Radishes 
December 2014
Issue 3: Nostalgia/Progress. 

Available at: 
New York, McNally Jackson Bookstore
Beirut, at select bookstores  
Kuwait, Q Cafe
Dubai, thejamjar