Many are sure to remember the historic peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Palestine leader Yasser Arafat in 1993, negotiations which were facilitated by the White House. The iconic pictures of a smiling Rabin, Arafat, and then-president Bill Clinton were facilitated by secret talks in Oslo, Norway, and the story of these negotiations are the subject of the new play Oslo, which is set to appear on Broadway next spring. As described in an article on The Voice of America, the talks were actually set in motion by sociologist Terje Rød-Larsen and his wife Mona Juul, a foreign-service officer. The play captures the unique story of these talks, where Rød-Larsen and Juul facilitated a new kind of negotiation. Rød-Larsen describes below:
“We did it in a way, exactly the opposite way of what it was done in Washington. We did not put proposals on the table. We said we would facilitate, bring the parties together, be go-between, assist them in any way, saying ‘It’s your problem, you have to resolve it yourself. We don’t want to push anything on you.’ And number two, we set up the delegations, should never exceed three persons on each side, because trust is dependent on personal relationships and to build personal relationships. And then we also insisted that they should live in the same house. They should have all meals together; breakfast, lunch and dinner. When there were breaks they could go for walks together, etc. They had to live together.”
The play captures the intertwined nature of the personal and the political, while highlighting the effectiveness of such methods. Of course, the play isn’t some dry paper; the actors have described making the play as a “wild improvisation” and it’s being called a great thriller. Playwright J.T Rogers’ Oslo has sold out at the Lincoln Center, and is sure to be a hit on Broadway, meaning the story of this little sociological experiment is far from curtains.