Crossing Jerusalem Actor Profile: Waleed Elgadi

Waleed Elgadi as YUSUF KHALLIL

Welcome to an eight part interview series featuring the cast members of Crossing Jerusalem.  Check back daily for the next installment.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your character in Crossing Jerusalem.

My name is Waleed Elgadi and I play Yusuf Khallilin Crossing Jerusalem.

To describe him he is the acting patriarch of the Khallil family.  He is the only source of income for the family as his father is sick and elderly, and he tries to be the guiding figure for his younger brother. As the play progresses, Yusuf discovers that the other family in the play were the employers of his father when he was a young child.  He’s quite an aspirational person. He wants to be educated. He wants his brother, Sharif, to be educated. Yusuf has street smarts but has decided not to go down the same route as his brother. He is perhaps jaded by all the death he has seen and has decided to play the role of the dutiful son. He therefore does things very much by the book and can sometimes see the world only in black or white.  He doesn’t see violence or conflict as a solution to his living situation.

Besides being the eldest of 5 siblings, there is a 14 year age gap between your character and Sharif.  What kind of strain does that put on the relationship between the brothers?

I think Sharif, being the baby of the family, does adopt him as a father figure. One of the great tragedies for these two is that Yusuf takes the stance of an authoritative figure instead of being a friend to his younger brother. He tries too hard to be the father, mother, everything for Sharif and consequently comes off as ancient in Sharif’s eyes. With Sharif full of the anger or hot headedness of youth Yusuf becomes a stereotype to him, someone he can’t relate to.

How are rehearsals going so far?

It’s been a really fun process so far.  Everything’s been going very well, I don’t want to jinx it! Its a luxury having a director that’s also the writer in the room. Often, when the writer isn’t present, you’re scared as an actor to change the words because you don’t want to cause offense. We can discuss topics, the process is open and free and we’re allowed to experiment. From the table read it was obvious that we were in a good place.  Everyone came with a solid bag of tricks and knew what they were doing and had a good idea of who the characters are. I think Julia Pascal has a great cast but then again I’m biased!

The big question, why should people come see Crossing Jerusalem?

You should come because it’s more than a piece of theatre about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.  It’s about families, about dysfunction, about how one lives within the backdrop of this conflict.  It’s a great piece of drama but it also has some comedic parts to it.  There are a couple of characters that are very funny and we’ll have some laugh out loud moments throughout the piece.  But you should come see it because it’s a really good piece of writing.  It’s a passionate play which is quite indicative of the region.

Crossing Jerusalem – Written and Directed by Julia Pascal

Synopsis: Set during the 2002 intifada, and just before the invasion of Iraq, Crossing Jerusalem is a potent and dynamic exploration of the theatre of war. The play describes 24 hours in the life of an Israeli family who cross Jerusalem to eat in an Arab village. In the course of a single day Arab and Jewish histories burst into the present in the most politically tense city in the world.

Venue & Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Telephone booking number: 020 7870 6876
Booking website:
Direct link to book tickets online click here

Opening and closing dates: Dates: Tues 4 August – Sat 29 August 2015 (Preview 4th and 5th August)
Times: 7.45pm Tues – Sat / Thu & Sat Matinees 3.15pm
Prices: £12.50 Previews / £18 Full / £15 Concessions /
£12.50 Tuesdays Residents with N.London postcode or Under 25s

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