Honouring Palestine’s Narrative: TAHA Breathes Life into Taha Muhammad Ali’s Poetry

It’s crazy how, as we go about life with the people we love, there are people in another part of the world who are fighting to survive each day. They’ve been caught in the relentless grip of the deep-rooted conflict between two nations, Palestine and Israel, their lives hanging in the balance amidst the chaos and upheaval. During these trying times for the people of Palestine, Singapore Theatre Company presents a play that weaves the threads of Palestine’s story through poetry and performance by honouring one of its greatest poets, Taha Muhammad Ali, in a theatre performance they call ‘TAHA’.

From 2 to 14 April 2024, TAHA is yours to catch at KC Arts Centre – Home of STC. TAHA, performed by Amer Hlehel, is a tribute to the illustrious Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali. Born in Saffuriya, Palestine, Taha’s poetic prowess propelled him onto the global stage, where his verses resonated deeply, portraying the resilience, love, and enduring spirit of his people.

The journey that Taha has walked is documented in this soul-stirring production that will give you a glimpse into the lives of those who have endured the trials of displacement and the quest for identity amidst the tumultuous landscape of conflict.

TAHA by Singapore Theatre Company
Themes of displacement and identity loss are deftly woven into Taha’s story, narrated with a poignant yet light-hearted touch

Taha’s journey starts as a humble shopkeeper in Palestine, where you’ll peek into the lives of Palestinians – one they’re unable to live right now. During the day, he sold souvenirs to Christian pilgrims in a small souvenir shop near a church. The story unfolds from his ill-starred birth through the tragic conflicts that compelled his family to flee their homeland to Lebanon when he was just 17, after their village came under heavy bombardment during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. 

Taha lived a double life. In the light, he’d work hard at his souvenir shop, and in the night, he studied poetry. He’d seek solace in the dark of night and the twinkle of stars to tell the stories his heart carried and ached to tell. Ironically, it was within the embrace of nightfall that Taha would shed light on the lives of his people and his country. And literature will forever be lucky to have had a gem like him, who was courageous enough to find the beauty of poetry even in the ugliest moments.

Adapted from Adina Hoffman’s acclaimed biography and under Amir Nizar Zuabi’s direction, TAHA was written and will be performed for the second time in Singapore by renowned Palestinian actor and playwright – Amer Hlehel. Singapore Theatre Company describes the production as “a tour-de-force performance that captures the life story of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali”, and we can’t wait to see his story come to life on that stage.

Amer Hlehel uses the power of theatre to tell TAHA’s story in a way that doesn’t just move you, but inspires you. The play is about a Palestinian man who dreamed of being a poet, but life, war and displacement did everything to steal that dream from him. But he fought. His passion remained alight, and he managed to snatch his dream back against every odd. When you watch this play, Amer hopes you, too, feel the power of dreams and remember the journey of yours.


Prepare to be enthralled by the journey of one man’s resilience and the universality of his human experience. TAHA runs 2 – 14 Apr 2024. Head to our website and book your tickets now!

♬ original sound – Singapore Theatre Company – Singapore Theatre Company

But what sparked Amer’s lightbulb moment to create this play and tell this story that Singapore will have the honour to hear? When he first read Taha’s poetry, it stirred something in him – “He wrote about the Palestinian Nakba (the Palestinian term for the events of 1948) in a very personal, deep, tender, and human way that was very new and you don’t usually find in Palestinian poetry,” Amer told the Singapore Theatre Company.

But it was when he read Adina Huffman’s biography of Taha, “My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness”, that he realised that Taha’s story bore a chilling resemblance to his own grandfather’s. He, too, survived the 1948 war and was displaced to Lebanon, just like Taha had. It was when he snuck back into Palestine that he realised it was now Israel, and he had to build his life back up from nothing.

It’s devastating that the events of that dark year for Palestinians have been buried in history and haven’t found enough platforms to be told to the rest of the world. Taha was one of the few who transformed the pain, devastation and loss from those tragic years of his life and of many other Palestinians into beautiful words that will forever immortalise that horrific year that generations to come will read and, at least, attempt to understand. And Amer is another one of the few that transformed Taha’s life and his stories into a theatre wonder.

TAHA by Singapore Theatre Company
Amer isn’t just telling the story of Taha, but that of his grandfather and every Palestinian caught in the crossfire between two nations

Taha’s poetry is characterised by its profound simplicity yet evocative imagery. In the simplest words, he conveys the complex themes of love, loss, displacement, and the resilience of the human spirit. He often drew upon his personal experiences and the tragic happenings around him, events that would later go down in history, to explore universal truths and evoke empathy in his readers. And he’d do it all while painting you scenes of everyday life in Palestine.

Such a poem that illustrates his style, which had won the world over, is ‘There Was No Farewell’:

“We did not cry at the hour of parting 
We had no time 
We had no tears 
We had no farewell 
We did not know at the moment of parting 
That we are departing 
Why should have we cried? 
And we were not awake 
Nor were we asleep 
At the night of our departure 
That night, we had no night 
Nor firelight 
Or absent moon” 

You see? Simple language. But it drips with emotion and depth. This poem is an ode to the people and that moment when they were fleeing from the cruelties of war just for a chance of survival. What they didn’t know was that their lives would never be the same ever again. And this poem also resonates with the current situation in Palestine, showing how history repeats itself and how the words written decades ago have come back to haunt (or heal?) the world today.

Such was the mind of Taha Muhammad Ali. Wouldn’t you like to know the life he lived that shaped the words he wrote? Wouldn’t you want to hear his stories? The man who’s told the stories of thousands of people of his time and whose words continue to tell the tale of Palestine today? 

We want you to go forth and have this experience! Whether it’s a family outing, a date, or a solo night, immerse yourself in a story as great as Taha’s. We have a special discount exclusively for our readers, and you can check it out at the bottom of this page with all other details about this magnificent play.

Oh, Singapore, TAHA has seen the unity and the love of Singaporeans once before. It’s time to show up with it again for Taha and Amer Hlehel. In Amer’s words, “The audience was so warm and engulfed me and the show with big love and generous reactions… Singapore was a very special experience for me, because I wasn’t expecting such engagement with the show. It was my first time ever in Singapore, and I thought that the audience won’t connect easily to a story that originated from afar. However, to my surprise, it was one of the most memorable shows ever.”.

Make your step in understanding the people of Palestine – those who are fighting to survive each day, those whose homes and families have been destroyed, those who want the same life we’re privileged to live right now. Just like Taha, there are many others in Palestine today whose dreams have been snatched through no fault of their own. And, hopefully, just like Taha, they can snatch them back from the cruel hands of fate.

TAHA weaves together a 60-minute-tapestry conveying sorrow, humour, resilience, and the profound humanity of this extraordinary artist. After all, at its core, TAHA is a narrative of love, displacement, and the pursuit of peace – just like Taha Muhammad Ali himself was.

TAHA by Amer Hlehel

TAHA by Amer Hlehel
Go forth and catch the story of one of the greatest poets literature has seen.

🗓️Dates: 2 to 14 April 2024
📍Location: 20 Merbau Rd, KC Arts Centre – Home of STC, Singapore 239035

  • Tuesday to Friday: 8pm
  • Saturday: 4pm and 8pm


  • Preview: Tuesday, 2 April, 8pm
    • Cat 1: $50
    • Cat 2: $45
  • Tuesday – Thursday, 8pm; Saturday, 4pm
    • Cat 1: $58
    • Cat 2: $53
  • Friday and Saturday, 8pm
    • Cat 1: $68
    • Cat 2: $63

Get your tickets to TAHA by Amer Hlehel at an exclusive discounted price right now, before it’s too late! For more information about TAHA, check out Singapore Theatre Company’s official website. Keep up with their Instagram and TikTok pages for all the other spectacular shows available for you right now!

Visuals courtesy of Singapore Theatre Company.

Baani Kaur

Aspiring to achieve great heights like every human in the world, but till then, enjoy the most dramatic and sarcastic person you will ever read from.

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