The Freedom Theatre
Too few people realize that without the Palestinian struggle for freedom, dignity, justice there would be no Arab Spring… In this struggle, the Jenin Freedom Theatre stands out as one of the most profoundly creative, innovative and hopeful expressions of all these trends. It has not only produced great art and its own martyrs. It has offered a model for the future, one based on the full respect for everyone's most basic human, civil, political and cultural rights that not only stands the best chance of healing Palestine/Israel, but of bringing real democracy and justice to the rest of the Arab world. --Mark LeVine, Professor, UC Irvine, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University, Sweden
The Freedom Theatre, Jenin Refugee Camp
The Freedom Theatre has been a creative center in Jenin Refugee Camp since 2006, using theatre and culture as tools of resistance to oppression, while opening creative possibilities.
Through its work, The Freedom Theatre aims to:
- Raise the quality of performing and visual arts in the area
- Offer a space in which children and youth can act, create and express themselves freely and equally, imagine new realities and challenge existing social and cultural barriers
- Empower the young generation to use arts to promote positive change in their community
- Break the cultural isolation that separates Jenin from the wider Palestinian and global communities
Recent highlights of our work include:
Approximately 5,500 people, 70% of them children, attended Freedom Theatre productions in 2013. The theatre developed both original plays and adaptations, including “Lost Land” (an adaptation of Le Grand Meaulnes), “Suicide Note from Palestine” (inspired by 4:48 Psychosis), “The Island” (an adaptation), “Stolen Dreams” (written by students), and “Magic Note” (inspired by the The Pied Piper). Productions toured Italy, Brazil, Sweden, and the U.S. The theatre also held a series of storytelling workshops and performances for children.
Our new Theatre School class of 10 young men and women are starting a three-year professional training program. Their first performance was the original play Enemy, combining students’ personal stories with Greek mythology. Drama in Education trained Palestinian educators in the use of drama as a pedagogical tool. The Freedom Bus, an annual tour of locals, internationals and theatre staff through Palestine, held its third trip with interactive theatre performances, drama workshops, live musical events, and storytelling. Students in the Film Unit produced six short films. Photography students engaged in a five-month course and produced an exhibit documenting their lived experiences. Creative writing workshops taught skills in writing articles, short stories and poems and Voices, the theatre’s youth Magazine, was published twice. Drama workshops exposed youth to the life tools that come from drama skills. Playback Theatre Training provided training for creating improvised theatre based on stories told by the audience.
The Theatre continues to live by Juliano’s words, “You don't have to heal the children in Jenin. We are not trying to heal their violence. We try to challenge it into more productive ways. And more productive ways are not an alternative to violence. What we are doing in the Theatre is not trying to be a replacement or an alternative to the resistance of the Palestinians in the struggle for liberation. Just the opposite. This must be clear. I know it’s not good for fund-raising, because I’m not a social worker, I’m not a good Jew going to help the Arabs, and I’m not a philanthropic Palestinian who comes to feed the poor. We are joining, by all means, the struggle for liberation of the Palestinian people, which is our liberation struggle…We’re not healers. We’re not good Christians. We are freedom fighters.”
Please support The Freedom Theatre!
MECA is excited to be working with The Freedom Theatre in Jenin. You can make a secure online donation now that will be used to support innovative programs for youth and children who make “Creation Under Occupation” a living reality.