Play focused on Gaza woman turns despair into hope

The Shroud Maker, a satirical new play set in Gaza, will premiere in London this month.

Written by novelist Ahmed Masoud –  a native of Gaza, based in the UK – The Shroud Maker focuses on the character of Hajja Souad, an elderly woman living in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Shujaiya, lying close to Gaza’s boundary with Israel, has suffered appalling violence in many of Israel’s attacks on the area.

Grim but vital trade

Hajja Souad has spent decades selling shrouds for the dead.

Her grim but vital trade makes Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014 highly lucrative for Hajja.

But it also forces her to confront her past, taking her back to her home village of Aqqur, near Jerusalem, which was destroyed in 1948, and her time working for the British authorities that governed Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel that same year.

Loosely based on a real-life character still living in Gaza, Masoud’s new play brings together true stories told to the author with touches of satire and comic fantasy. 

Disembodied history

“For me The Shroud Maker is a story that stitches the purposefully disembodied Palestinian history together,” Masoud told The Electronic Intifada. ”Hajja Souad is a seamstress that has survived decades of war and dispossession through turning death into life and despair into hope.”

The staging of Masoud’s new play follows the publication of his first novel, also set in Gaza.

Vanished: the Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards hosted by the website Middle East Monitor.

Masoud, an important new voice in Palestinian creativity in Britain, is the author of several other plays which have been performed on stage and on radio.

The first staging of The Shroud Maker, in London at the headquarters of Amnesty International UK, will pointedly take place on Remembrance Day, 11 November. This will allow the audience to recall the victims of Israel’s attacks on Palestinians, and other victims of imperialism in the Middle East. 

Proceeds from the performance will go to Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital.




will there be other opportunities to see the Shroud maker


Every opportunity to showcase the despair of Palestinians and the brutality of life in Gaza is a good thing, but when this play comes to Broadway we will know that the tide is turning on Israel.

Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.