So far 27 kitchens have been put at Mr. Zuabi and Ms. Maloufâs disposal, from Staten Island to Montclair, N.J. The smallest accommodates only 11 seats; the largest holds 40. Ticket buyers will find a neighborhood and cross streets listed for each performance, along with warnings like âthird-floor walk-upâ and âcat on premisesâ; the address will be released 24 hours before the show.
For now, Ms. Malouf was acclimating herself to her temporary rehearsal space, with its Pepto-pink floors and pale yellow walls. She and Mr. Zuabi had spent the morning cooking, then turned the props into lunch â verdant tabbouleh and earthy lentils â for the crew.
It was time for flesh. Thus far sheâd made do with chicken breast, which is cheaper than the beef called for by the script. Today she had steak. âSo much could go wrong,â she said with a grin, her dark hair waterfalling to one side as the kitchen island shook from her chopping.
Back in March, the casting notice for the show had requested an actress âconfident with chopping onions and mincemeat,â noting that âthe cooking should look fun and easy.â At this particular moment, however, Mr. Zuabi wasnât looking for fun. âPut the emotional energy into the knife,â he said.
Mr. Zuabi, a Palestinian, grew up in the predominantly Arab city of Nazareth in Israel and now lives in Haifa. His extended family (âmore like a tribeâ) is divided among Syria, Jordan and Israel. In 2013 he traveled to a refugee camp in Irbid, Jordan, with the actress Corinne Jaber, who would go on to originate the role in âOh My Sweet Land.â One day a man walked in to the tent where they were conducting research interviews, wearing a blue button-down shirt âlike the one Iâm wearing now,â Mr. Zuabi said. They looked at each other: âspitting image.â After a quick exchange of names, they learned that they were relatives. The man had…