Cover art by David Prittie

O Jerusalem

A R Gurney
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O JERUSALEM centers around an American State Department official who becomes entangled in Middle Eastern politics before and after September 11, 2001. Along the way, the protagonist encounters a Palestinian woman from his past.

Production Info

Cast: 5 total (3 female, 2 male)
Full Length Drama (about 110 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“It’s true that O JERUSALEM, an exhilarating new play by A R Gurney … seems especially timely because of its subject matter. After all, it touches on many of the issues now preoccupying people around the world: the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, American foreign policy, terrorism … Gurney’s play manages to reach beyond its topical premise to pack a big, heartbreaking wallop. This is not a story about anything so cold as politics. Above all, it’s about a man struggling to balance his ideals and personal relationships against a high-pressure career … Gurney works with a wider geographic and cultural lens than usual. His previous plays have dealt mostly with domestic turmoil among white, upper-class Protestants; here, although the conflicts are still personal, they have global repercussions. And one of the main characters is decidedly nonwhite: Amira, a Palestinian activist … Gurney’s crackling dialogue. Each scene pulses with … it has a scattershot energy and an ear for emotionally charged situations that make it totally engrossing. When a play has those assets, it doesn’t need current events to be relevant.” —Justin Glanville, The Associated Press

“Even when he’s angry and exasperated, A R Gurney holds on to a respectful air of apology. This most courteous of contemporary playwrights, known for his wry chronicles of upper-crust Protestant mores, has now focused on a fiery subject far from the country clubs of New England. The author of THE COCKTAIL HOUR and THE DINING ROOM has set up camp in Israel and Palestine. And he is the first to admit that, like many a Western diplomat before him, he finds himself lost and bewildered there … there is something deeply touching in the urgency behind it … Like the main figures in Mr Gurney’s FAR EAST and MIDDLE AGES, Hartwell is haunted by a youthful affair with a woman of another culture. She is in this instance a Christian Palestinian named Amira … One of the characters from the future in O JERUSALEM wonders if the title is ‘a prayer or a sigh.’ This exquisite, wistful observation reflects the troubled gaze through which Mr Gurney, like so many Americans, sees a distant land that seems to keep moving closer to home.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

About the Author


  • A R Gurney

    A R ("Pete") Gurney's work has been produced in New York at Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, and Primary Stages. Among his plays are THE DINING ROOM, THE COCKTAIL HOUR, LOVE LETTERS, SYLVIA, FAR EAST, THE FOURTH WALL, and BIG BILL. Four of his more political plays — O JERUSALEM, MRS FARNSWORTH, SCREEN PLAY, and POST MORTEM — have been produced at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. Gurney also wrote several published novels, as well as the libretto for Michael Torke's opera Strawberry Fields, presented by the New York City Opera. A former Professor of Literature at M I T, he was elected in 2005 to the Theater Hall of Fame and in 2006 to The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He passed away in June 2017. Audio Interview [audioplayer file="//" titles="Leonard Lopate Interviews A R Gurney" artists="" bg="434343"]

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 1/1/2005
Pages 80
ISBN 9780881452624

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by The Flea Theater, New York

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
O Jerusalem is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


10/13/2016 – 10/13/2016
ASPEC Eckerd College
St. Petersburg, FL