West Coast Premiere

Returning to Haifa

by Ghassan Kanafani, adapted for the stage by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi

Returning to Haifa

In the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, with the borders finally open after two decades, Said and Safiyya, a Palestinian couple, return to Haifa in search of the echoes of a home they were forced to abandon during the Nakba in 1948. But are they truly ready for the encounter that awaits them upon their return? Returning to Haifa presents a deeply human portrait of two families, one Palestinian, and one Israeli Jewish, forced by history into an intimacy they didn’t choose.

“A moving confrontation between two sets of displaced people and an utterly unsentimental exploration of the complexities of home, history and parenthood.” - Michael Billington, The Guardian, 5 March 2018

Returning to Haifa is a beautiful and important play portraying the personal tragedies created because of much bigger acts between humans.” - Nabila Said, Exeunt Magazine, 24 March 2018

April 12, 2024 - May 4, 2024

Potrero Stage

1695 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Tickets $30 - $100. No one turned away for lack of funds.

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Written by Ghassan Kanafani, adapted for the stage by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi

Directed by Samer Al-Saber

Featuring Diala Al-Abed, Amal Bisharat, Jacob Henrie-Naffaa, Lijesh Krishnan, Michelle Navarrete

Design Team: Carlos Aceves (Scenic), Samantha Alexa (Props), Cassie Barnes (Light), Madeline Berger (Costume), Derek Schmidt (Sound)

Dramaturgy by Marina Johnson

publicity & production photography by Najib Joe Hakim

Ghassan Kanafani was one of the most prominent Arab novelists and modernist playwrights whose pen made him a target for the Israeli Mossad, who assassinated him at the age of thirty-six years old. Using the words of Palestinian actor and storyteller Raeda Taha, in her new play The Gazelle of Aka about the life and death of Ghassan Kanafani, she writes: “Ghassan was a journalist, political activist, and the spokesman for the PFLP (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). He used to paint, draw, sculpt, and constantly sketch. He loved drawing - and especially enjoyed gifting his drawings to his friends […] Ghassan wrote Life. He wrote about his love of songs, music, and literature. He wrote about his childhood memories as a refugee, he wrote about the refugee camps. He wrote about the Nakba and the collective expulsion. He wrote about his assassination.”

His novella Returning to Haifa, one of the most important works in contemporary Palestinian literature, was first published in 1969 and was translated into various languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese,  Russian and Polish. Returning to Haifa has been dramatized and staged in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, France, Italy, Lebanon and was very well received by audiences in the various countries.

Ghassan Kanafani


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Naomi Wallace


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Ismail Khalidi


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Samer Al-Saber


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Marina Johnson


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Diala Al-Abed

ensemble cast (Young Safiyya)

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Amal Bisharat

ensemble cast (Safiyya)

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Jacob Henrie-Naffaa

ensemble cast (Dov & Young Said)

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Lijesh Krishnan

ensemble cast (Said)

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Michelle Navarrete

ensemble cast (Miriam)

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Photo Gallery: Publicity

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Golden Thread Productions

1695 18th Street, #C101
San Francisco, CA 94107
The ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone

Phone: 415.626.4061


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