The Freedom Theatre

The Freedom Theatre is developing a vibrant and creative artistic community in the northern part of the West Bank. While emphasising professionalism and innovation, the aim of the theatre is also to empower youth and women in the community and to explore the potential of arts as an important catalyst for social change. Through its work, The Freedom Theatre aims to: - Raise the quality of performing arts and cinema in the area. - Offer a space in which children and youth can act, create and express themselves freely, imagining new realities and challenging existing social and cultural barriers. - Empower the young generation to use the arts to promote positive change in their community. - B...
May 5, 2015

The Siege comes to the UK!

The Siege performed in Palestine
The Siege performed in Palestine

"It is very exciting to welcome The Freedom Theatre’s tour of their new play ‘The Siege’ to Britain. This is real political theatre, performed out of the both terrible and inspiring experience of a struggle for freedom and justice. They are living proof that telling stories and entertaining audiences are powerful acts of resistance to oppression. Do go and see them, they have news for us. This little theatre could change the world.” Howard Brenton, playwright

Receiving outstanding reviews, The Siege has just ended a series of sold-out performances across the West Bank. Large audiences from Jenin to Bethlehem were captured throughout the play; laughing, crying and cheering as the story of the siege of Bethlehem in 2002 unfolded.

The Siege opened to a full house at The Freedom Theatre on April 4, the fourth anniversary of the unsolved murder of the theatre's general director and co-founder, Juliano Mer Khamis in 2011. April 4 is also the anniversary of the large-scale invasion of Jenin Refugee Camp by the occupation forces in 2002, which played out in parallel to the siege of Bethlehem. The last performance of The Siege took place in Bethlehem, a very symbolic event attended by over 350 people, some of whom had personal experiences of those fateful 39 days when the entire centre of Bethlehem was under curfew. 

The Siege brings together Palestinian actors from the West Bank, Palestine '48/Israel and Jerusalem, as well as a creative team with Palestinian and international members, including The Freedom Theatre co-founder, composer and activist Dror Feiler and composer Nicola Kodjabashia. (Find full list of creative team, cast and production team here).

The Siege will soon embark on The Freedom Theatre's first UK tour, with a string of performances across Britain. We hope you will join us! Dates & details: www.thefreedomtheatre.org/the-siege.


"This is a rare opportunity to see this famous company. This should be not only exciting theatre but give us an insight into the horrific oppression suffered by Palestinians in the territories occupied by Israel. I’m sure the performance will be a hit!” Ken Loach, film director

The Siege performed in Palestine
The Siege performed in Palestine
The Siege performed in Palestine
The Siege performed in Palestine
The Siege performed in Palestine
The Siege performed in Palestine

Links:

May 1, 2015

Report from this year's Freedom Ride

Freedom Riders in the Jordan Valley
Freedom Riders in the Jordan Valley

This year's Freedom Ride in occupied Palestine brought together 50 people from Palestine and abroad who travelled to communities across the occupied West Bank, bringing cultural resistance from Jenin in the north, all the way to Jerusalem.

Actually, not everyone made it to Jerusalem. The original plan was to spend the two last days of the Freedom Ride there - a symbolic and actual defiance of the enforced separation between Palestinians in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. However, realities on the ground came in the way. Despite several attempts, the Palestinian members of the Freedom Ride, including The Freedom Theatre’s staff, students and actors, were denied permits and thus could not cross the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The international members of the Freedom Ride were put in a dilemma – should they continue or stay? In the end half the group stayed behind to in Ramallah and the other continued into East Jerusalem. In the evening the two groups carried out parallel playback theatre events, sharing stories of isolation, marginalisation and the difficulties of having to separate from the Freedom Riders who were not granted permission to enter their own capital. There were also accounts about solidarity between people from around the world with Palestine and how that inspires and gives hope.

For many, this year's ride was a transformative journey.

"The Freedom Ride was a very intense, rich experience. I appreciated the fact that there was a good number of Palestinians on the ride and that Palestinians played a dominant role in organizing the itinerary and events throughout the ride. The Ride is unique in its combination of Freedom Ride participant interaction, experiences with a diverse set of Palestinian communities and engagement with the arts. Every day I was saturated with stories, information, emotions and thoughts—snapshots of the multiple and diverse perspectives about the reality of occupation. It is an experience I will never forget and one that challenges me to change my own actions and involvement moving forward."

The unique feature of the Freedom Bus project is the use of cultural activism to bear witness, raise awareness and build alliances. Actors and musicians invite real-life stories from communities across occupied Palestine and subsequently transform each account into a piece of improvised theatre. This makes the Freedom Ride organized by The Freedom Theatre unique in Palestine and very different from other solidarity rides. Other events of the Freedom Ride include volunteer work in communities, such as planting trees, painting walls or making mud bricks, walks, workshops and educational talks. All these activities happen in communities who are affected by the occupation in their daily lives, but who differ in how they respond to it. The accounts we heard were not easy to bear and sometimes emotionally overwhelming.

In the end we hope there will be no need for another Freedom Ride in occupied Palestine. But as long as Palestine is not free, we will continue. We hope you will continue to stand by our side.

Making new friends
Making new friends
Music and theatre are central in the Freedom Ride
Music and theatre are central in the Freedom Ride
Freedom Rider waving a flag close to a settlement
Freedom Rider waving a flag close to a settlement
Popular resistance works!
Popular resistance works!
Playback theatre event in a small village
Playback theatre event in a small village

Links:

Feb 23, 2015

We're in rehearsals!

A quote from the play
A quote from the play

“It is very exciting to welcome the Freedom Theatre’s tour of their new play ‘The Siege’ to Britain. This is real political theatre, performed out of the both terrible and inspiring experience of a struggle for freedom and justice. They are living proof that telling stories and entertaining audiences are powerful acts of resistance to oppression. Do go and see them, they have news for us. This little theatre could change the world.” Howard Brenton, playwright

 

Dear friend,

February is upon us and here at The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, we are busy rehearsing our brand new production, The Siege, which will go on a West Bank tour in April before it continues to the UK in May-June for the theatre's first-ever British tour. The Siege will be the biggest touring production ever performed in Britain by a Palestinian theatre company. For us it is a dream come true - and your support made it happen! 

The Siege is inspired by the true stories of a group of fighters who during the height of the second Intifada took refuge in the Church of the Nativity, while the Israeli army closed in, paralyzing the center of Bethlehem and keeping tens of thousands under curfew. Along with the fighters were some 200 priests, nuns and civilians. The siege lasted for 39 days. 

The directors traced the fighters who are now exiled across Europe and collected their untold accounts of an event that with time has taken on almost mythical proportions.

Opening
April 4, 15:00 at The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp
This day is also the memorial of the unsolved 2011 murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre. On this day we remember and honour Juliano’s life, work and legacy, while we repeat our demand that those responsible for this crime be brought to justice.
The opening of The Siege and the memorial will be live streamed to enable those outside of Jenin to join us.

Other West Bank performances
The Freedom Theatre: April 5-12 (details to follow).
West Bank tour: April 13-18
Performances in Ramallah/Birzeit, Bethlehem and Hebron (details to follow).

UK tour: May 13-June 20
Performances confirmed thus far:

THE LOWRY (Manchester) 13th-14th May
LAKESIDE THEATRE (Colchester) 16th May
BAC (London) 19th-23rd May
THE HUB (Leeds) 26th May
ST MARY IN THE CASTLE (Hastings) 28th May
THE MERLIN (Frome) 30th May
BIRMINGHAM REP (Birmingham) 4th-6th June
NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE (Nottingham) 10th-11th June
THE TRON (Glasgow) 17th-20th June
 
The tour will be organized by The Friends Of The Freedom Theatre UK, a network of over 300 people in Britain who are engaged in the theatre’s activities. They are always looking for more people to join them, so do get in touch if you are interested in becoming involved somehow. Read more here.

Once again thank you so much for your generous support! We hope to get the chance to meet you in person when we come to the UK. In the meantime, stay updated about The Siege here.

The Siege creative team reading through the script
The Siege creative team reading through the script
One of the exiled fighters from the siege
One of the exiled fighters from the siege

Links:

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