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The Caterers
by Jonathan Leaf

Production photo

Brian Wallace, Judith Hawking, Ian Blackman and Peter Reznikoff in a scene from The Caterers

Author: Jonathan Leaf

Description: Inspired by a real-life hostage drama which took place in 1977, the play is a politically incorrect thriller dealing with the issues of anti-semitism, the role of women in the Islamic world and the West and the present conflicts between Muslims and unbelievers.

Year Written/Copyrighted: 2005
Date Added: 3/7/2012
Content Advisory: There is adult content in the play. This includes marked violence, strong language and an attempted seduction
Keywords: Characters are Mostly Young Adults · Fight Sequences · Literature and Writing · Mostly Male Characters · Naturalism/Realism · Single Set · Small Cast Size
1 Act, 85 Minutes
1 Female, 3 Males

NOTE: The Caterers is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to jonathan.leaf@aya.yale.edu.

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From the Author:

The Caterers was inspired by an actual incident. In 1977, a group of radical Muslims took 121 people and three buildings hostage in Washington, D.C. to prevent the showing of a movie which they wrongly believed showed the prophet Mohammed on screen. Full of hatred of Jews, they occupied the national headquarters of B'nai Brith and denounced the film as a Jewish plot against Islam.

My play re-sets the story in New York in the present day in an action-filled, very intense drama dealing with anti-Semitism, women's rights and the nature of religious faith.

Regrettably, the director of the first production changed the ending of the play—altering scenes during rehearsals that I was not present at. This greatly marred the play, and left it with an illogical conclusion. Yet, in spite of this, the production received a series of rave reviews, and it was nominated by the New York Innovative Theater Awards for Best Full-Length Script of the Year, Best Production and Best Actor (Brian Wallace). My hope is that making the play available in this form will lead to a future production which is faithful to the script I wrote.

Casting/Production Comments:

The Caterers is an exceptionally easy play to stage from a technical standpoint. The most important things to do in presenting it are simply to find good actors and to use realistic props and sets.

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Original Production Information

The Caterers was first presented by The Immediate Theater Company at Altered Stages, New York City, in 2005, with the following cast and credits:

Brian Wallace - Mohammed
Judith Hawking - Nina
Ian Blackman - David
Peter Reznikoff - Sir Warren Heath

Director - Jose Zayas
Costumes - Mel Haley
Lighting - Aaron J. Mason
Sets - Ryan Kravetz
Music - Philip Quinaz
Stage Manager - Parys Lebron

Excerpt from The Caterers

The hallway door opens. A man in a Con Ed outfit backs into the room holding a 9-mm.automatic pistol. Slung over his shoulder as well is a Kalashnikov automatic rifle. He sees them.


TERRORIST

What are you doing here?


DAVID

What are we doing here?


TERRORIST

Yes, what are you doing here? There wasn’t supposed to be anyone.


DAVID

Except us. And the projectionist - when he gets here.


TERRORIST

Anyone else?


DAVID

Well, no.


TERRORIST

No. Put your hands up.


They put their hands up.


TERRORIST

Higher. No one else?


DAVID

How would we know? It’s just a screening.


TERRORIST

Yes, but you have the film? The print?


DAVID

No. We’re the caterers.


Nina tries to lead David towards the exit door.


TERRORIST

Don’t move. Get on your knees.


With his free hand, Mohammed grabs the top of David’s head and violently forces him down. There is a pause.


NINA

You’re going to kill us? We have a child.


TERRORIST

You have a child here?


DAVID

No, no. At home.


NINA

Our daughter is at home.


TERRORIST

…How old is your daughter?


NINA

Six.


TERRORIST

Hm.


NINA

...You know, you’re terrifying us.


TERRORIST

I should hope. I am a “terrorist”.


DAVID

Well…


TERRORIST

I love that word “terrorist”. That the victims are called “terrorists”.