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...
Sep 25, 2014

The wheels are turning!...

March Freedom Ride event
March Freedom Ride event

March 2015 may seem to be a long way away, but rest assured the Freedom Bus team is keeping busy preparing for the next Freedom Ride! Dozens of potential freedom riders have already contacted us, wanting to express their interest in what has by now become an almost legendary tour to some of the key areas of the occupied West Bank. Do you want to join us? Sign up today!

Find out why you need to join the next Freedom Ride here and read daily updates from the previous ride on the blog.

If you follow the work of The Freedom Theatre you know that the Freedom Bus project has grown to become an integral part of the theatre's work. Throughout the year we organize Solidarity stays in vulnerable communities - one of those is coming up in Bil'in in mid-October, and last week we arranged a second playback theatre training for villagers in the small community of Atuwani. 

Speaking of Atuwani; we have a very special project coming up, which emanates from this extraordinary village. Following the success of Our Sign is the Stone, based on stories from the village Nabi Saleh, The Freedom Theatre returned to Area C this summer to document the life and resistance of people in Atuwani in the South Hebron Hills. After extensive research with community members, most notably the women who play a central role in Atuwani's struggle, a play is now being developed, Atuwani, which will open on October 14th.

Like other Palestinian communities in Area C, Atuwani is under full Israeli civil and military control. In contempt of international law, Israel has established a discriminatory system where Palestinians in this area are denied access to their land and water, as well as basic services such as housing, health care and education for their children, while facing constant harassment by Israeli settlers from the illegal colonies nearby.

The production involves the first-year Theatre School students in the devising process and as actors.

“To me this play is a perfect exercise in cultural resistance”, says Faisal Abu Alheja who is directing Atuwani. “We go to a community that is facing unimaginable pressure and harassment from settlers and army. Yet they have managed to stay together, to fight together. We collect their stories, analyze them, turn them into a play, and then our students tell the stories to other communities around the West Bank.”

Atuwani will tour to villages, towns and refugee camps, among them of course Atuwani. 

To read more about Atuwani and the other three - yes, three! - productions we have lined up this autumn, visit our website.

 

March Freedom Ride event
March Freedom Ride event
Aug 20, 2014

Looking ahead

Making new friends; young...
Making new friends; young...

This summer, our hearts and minds have been focused on Gaza. For over a month, Israel bombarded Gaza from land, sea and air. More than 1900 Palestinians have lost their lives, including over 450 children, many thousands have been injured and more than 100 000 people have had their homes destroyed. Hospitals, schools, UN shelters and ambulances have been targeted. Compared to previous assaults on Gaza, the number and intensity of attacks have been unusually high, and massive bombardments of civilian locations were the rule rather than the exception. The damage caused to the population of Gaza is uncomprehensible.

In mid-July, The Freedom Theatre along with the other main cultural organisations in occupied Palestine issued a statement in solidarity with Gaza. We called upon fellow artists and cultural organisations to condemn Israel's aggression and stand with our companions who continue to work in Gaza, using music, theatre and drama to comprehend, process, educate and mobilize. On our website we also listed a number of actions to take to support Gaza.

Given the circumstances, it is difficult to look ahead. But all of us at The Freedom Theatre recognise that in the midst of our outrage and despair, we as cultural workers have a special role to play. Quoting our Managing Director, Jonatan Stanczak: "The most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play and dream, to be able to discover alternatives and pursue them. The oppressive forces fear this weapon the most because as long as we are able to imagine another kind of world, we have the power to fight for our dreams. If you can find within yourself the slightest playfulness and the dream of a better life, a better society, then you have not been defeated and you are resisting. If we nurture that positive spirit we will one day discover that we are together a well-equipped army, willing and able to fight the Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism as well as the occupation from within. I strongly feel that we are not far from being able to do exactly this."

Our Freedom Bus project is perhaps more needed than ever. At the heart of all Freedom Bus activities is the belief that active solidarity, community engagement and creative expression are vital in the journey towards a just, peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict. Through our Freedom Rides and Solidarity Stays, people who are otherwise separated come together to share experiences and build alliances. 

We hope that you will be able to join this movement. Tentative dates for the 2015 Freedom Ride are March 15-30. The ride will include building and reconstruction work, protective presence activity, guided walks, interactive workshops and cultural events. Through Playback Theatre, community members will share personal accounts about the realities of life and struggle under colonialism, occupation and apartheid. Read more and sign up here.

... and old, but young at heart.
... and old, but young at heart.
Tea time during community visit
Tea time during community visit
Morning circle warm-up
Morning circle warm-up
Playback Theatre event
Playback Theatre event

Links:

May 27, 2014

The Freedom Ride 2014 in a nutshell!

Chat with locals in the Jordan Valley
Chat with locals in the Jordan Valley

Recently we at The Freedom Theatre have been very busy with a number of exciting things - while our third year students graduated and are now spreading their wings, we are also very happy to share with you that we have welcomed a new class of 11 students to our theatre school!

One of the first highlights of the Freedom Ride was our graduates' final performance as students on our stage – under the headline “The Commands” each of our promising talents performed a scene written and conceptualized on their own. Our Freedom Riders were in love with people and culture even before we boarded the bus to set out on what can only be described as an epic journey. We strongly believe everyone should join this ride at least once in their life!

On a scenic route through the Jordan Valley the group was so taken by the beauty of the landscape that it was easy to forget that we were indeed moving through an area claimed by the occupation forces for military exercises. A number of stops were made to meet local Bedouins who are forced to live in caves and structures made of tin and wood and listen to their accounts of resistance and suffering but also hope – and last but not least to conduct briefings similar to a crash course in how to deal with soldiers of the occupation forces in case of encounters.

And before long we got the chance to apply that newly gained wisdom: we were stopped by a group of Israeli soldiers on the grounds that this was a closed military firing zone. It made us realize how different and complicated the reality is that Palestinians are forced to deal with in order to literally hold their ground. 

Improving a school building with a new concrete floor in a small Bedouin village (while againbeing stopped by the Israeli army), attending the weekly Friday demonstration in Nabi Saleh and braving the fogs of teargas, witnessing an entire olive tree grove be destroyed by Israeli settlers and occupation forces, an abundance of interactive theatre and storytelling events - that and many other adventures followed. 

See our daily updated Freedom Bus blog diary to find out more about what happened during this year's Freedom Ride!

After two weeks the Freedom Ride had turned into a Freedom Family and parting ways was emotional, contact details were exchanged and pacts of future meetings sealed!

It is safe to say that this has been an experience that moved people closer, internationals and locals alike. No one will forget the Freedom Ride 2014 and even now, nearly two months later, we are proud to point out that the communication within the Freedom Family is well alive and kicking!

Olive tree planting
Olive tree planting
Building a school in Khirbet Samra
Building a school in Khirbet Samra
Strong bonds were forged between freedom riders
Strong bonds were forged between freedom riders
Interactive cultural events throughout the ride
Interactive cultural events throughout the ride
Equally strong bonds were created with locals
Equally strong bonds were created with locals

Links:

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