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.
November is the time of the year we count our blessings and reflect on all the things we are grateful for.
We at The Freedom Theatre and the Freedom Bus team feel grateful for... well - YOU!
We would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for your generous donations and ceaseless efforts during this past year. Your contribution matters and has made a lasting difference!
Features like volunteer work, solidarity stays in communities at risk and cultural events with live music, hakawati (traditional storytelling) and Playback Theatre, where a troupe of actors and musicians invite stories from community members and transform each account into a piece of improvised theatre, have made the Freedom Bus movement that has engaged thousands in occupied Palestine so successful and well known throughout the world.
Links of solidarity and friendship have been created that transcend any human-made border. This project is one of a kind and thanks to your support, it has grown beyond what we have every dared to hope for!
To witness more of the small and the bigger miracles that are achieved through your efforts and donations, to keep up-to-date with the latest and, most importantly, to ensure you are onboard for the journey ahead - sign up for our regular newsletter (www.thefreedomtheatre.org), visit us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thefreedombus) and follow the Freedom Bus on Twitter (#FreedomBusPal)!
September will be a very busy month for our Freedom Bus troupe! In just one week the play Our Sign is the Stone is about to embark on a tour of the West Bank. The play is a result of several personal stories and accounts about the realities of life under Israeli occupation that were documented during our March Freedom Bus Ride. The play was directed by renowned British directress Diane Travis, the first women to run the company at Britain’s Royal National Theatre, who will - in preparation for the touring of the play – run intensive training for the Freedom Bus troupe.
In addition, the troupe would like to invite you to join them during their 3-day Freedom Bus Solidarity stay in South Hebron hills and support local communities in their struggle to remain on community land. This three-day event will include mud-brick making, building work, discussions, storytelling for children, Playback Theatre, and traditional music.
In the last few months an in-depth evaluation of the Freedom Bus initiative was carried out among members of the local communities and the results have shown several positive effects that the Freedom Bus events have had. The supportive presence of non-locals helps the community to feel less isolated in their struggle against occupation and apartheid, while the presence of Palestinians from other parts of historic Palestine was viewed by locals as an affront to the deliberate geopolitical fragmentation imposed by Israel.
Besides, the Freedom Bus events were perceived as an opportunity for two-way exchange. Non-local participants learnt about life in various parts of the occupied West Bank, while participants from host communities appreciated the chance to learn about life in other parts of Palestine and abroad.
The Freedom Bus troupe and the communities we serve would like to thank you for your support! At the same time we would like to remind you that there are lots of exciting things happening in the next few months and we hope you will stay with us for the ride.
In just 6 weeks, the Freedom Bus troupe will embark on its March Freedom Ride! In preparation for the March ride and those to come the Freedom Bus troupe has been engaging in performances and workshops throughout the West Bank and Egypt.
This past January the Freedom Bus troupe visited the communities of Fasayi’il al-Fauqa and Fasayi’il al-Wusta in the Jordan Valley joining them in their struggle to remain on community land. This three-day event included mud-brick making, building work, discussions, storytelling for children, Playback Theatre, and traditional music.
From the 20th January to February 2nd the Freedom Bus traveled to Egypt for the second annual Playback Theatre workshop in Cairo. This 4-day intensive workshop led by the Freedom Bus troupe provided participants with the opportunity to learn and practice basic elements of Playback Theatre while trying out different roles; such as story-teller, conductor, musician, and actor.
The Freedom Bus troupe and the communities we serve would like to thank you for your support! We have updated this project and to eliminate duplication on GlobalGiving site this page will need to come down but no need to worry as you will still be able to follow and support us by searching The Freedom Bus – Community Theatre (just as before). We apologize for any confusion this might cause and encourage you to continue supporting the Freedom Bus troupe and to visit our project page, The Freedom Bus – Community Theatre (same name, same project).
Next week we will be posting a new video, which by the way we will be entering into the GlobalGiving video contest – so be sure to have a look and lets us know what you think. Lots of exciting things happening in the next few months and we hope you will stay with us for the ride…
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