Welcome to Az Theatre’s blog

These are the different strands you might like to follow:

If you want to read the blog that has accompanied the development of our War & Peace: Gaza (Palestine)/ London (UK) project and follow the story right through to the present including the email blog that Hossam Madhoun, Director of Theatre for Everybody sent during the 2014 attack on Gaza CLICK HERE or read the latest here click on the Category: War and Peace: Gaza-London in the categories box on the right.

If you want to read the blog that accompanied the development of the mappa mundi, the Az Theatre project that addressed the issue of personal, social and environmental change CLICK HERE If you want to find out a bit more about mappa mundi CLICK HERE

Emigrants project description

This is information about a new project we are initiating

Proposal for a theatre production – Theatre for Everybody

The Emigrants by Stanislaw Mrozek in a special Gaza adaptation. 

Introduction:

The siege 

Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world. Movement restrictions imposed by Israel since the early 1990’s and intensified in June 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, have severely undermined the living conditions and the health and education systems. The isolation of Gaza has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on its only passenger crossing in Rafah. Thus, for example, thousands of students have lost the opportunity to complete education overseas. They have also deprived by the internal Palestinian division. Although the blockade and related restrictions contravene international humanitarian law as they target and impose hardship on the civilian population, effectively penalizing them for acts they have not committed, the international community have remained silent. Major escalations of military attacks by Israel in the past years have resulted in extensive destruction, thousands of causalities and major internal displacement.

Unemployment 

In Gaza it continues to rise. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment in Gaza reached 52 percent in 2018, an increase of almost eight percent since 2017 and of more than 20 percent since Israel imposed the closure in 2007. Since Hamas took over the control on Gaza on 2007, it has ruled Gaza with a harsh dictatorial regime.  Speaking out and self-expression has led to prison.Posts on Facebook or twitter criticising Hamas have led many young people to spend many days in prison suffering  humiliating investigation and torture. 

During the last few years, and in particular after the war of 2014, a new phenomenon has appeared in Gaza. For the first time suicidal incidents among young people are on the increase.  Gaza’s young people turn to suicide in growing desperation.

In March 2019, hundreds of Palestinians participated in protests against rising prices and in opposition to Hamas in various locations in the Strip. These were the ‘We Want the Right to LIve’ protests. Hamas security forces cracked down harshly, beating protesters and arresting hundredsrafah. Demonstrations have since petered out.

The Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was opened under the Palestinian Authority in November 2017 for the first time in a decade, permitting Gazans take a plane to Turkey for vacations. However, many residents — mainly young and educated — saw that as an opportunity to escape the impoverished enclave, they were smuggled onto boats and sent to Greece, from which they travelled to other European countries — chiefly Germany, Sweden and Belgium.

Though the perils of the journeys ahead of migrants are well known, many Palestinians are still determined to leave the Gaza Strip, where life is no longer bearable. 35,000 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip between 2014 and 2018 and didn’t return due to the financial crisis there and lack of hope and the absence of any visible horizon of change. 

Many young Palestinians have lost their lives on the way to ‘salvation’, as they might see it. For example, among dozens of migrants killed in June 2019 when a boat capsized off the shore of Turkey were 13 Palestinians escaping Gaza.

Arriving in Europe has not necessarily solved the problem for these thousands of young people. In Belgium alone, 20,000 young men requesting refuge are stuck in refugees’ centres for years waiting for reply from the authorities.  Many could not complete their education. Thousands are working in the illegal economy. Life is not at all what they expected and they lose years of their young lives without any goal or achievement. 

The project: 

Theatre for Everybody is planning to produce The Emigrants to audiences of young men and women, university students and others. In the first phase there will be 5 performances including interactive participatory sessions.  Each performance will have 150 attendees.  In venues in Gaza City and Khan Younis.

The play is a chance for the young attendees to correct stereotypes about Europe and the West in regard to emigration.  It will show an alternative story and how emigration may be far from being the solution to their problems.   

The play is translated into Arabic by Hossam Madhoun and the adaptation will be made by the company under the direction of Naeem Nasr.

Theatre for Everybody will work in close cop-operation with Universities and Youth Associations.

The play:

The Emigrants takes place on a New Year’s Eve in an unnamed West country in the basement lodgings of two immigrants. One is a political exile, an intellectual who gets his money from a mysterious source. The other is a ditch digger who is saving money to return to his ‘homeland’.
The poor, disadvantaged worker hangs around in the splendid city watching the appearances of luxury without being able to buy the pleasures he sees. He yearns to return home to show off his success to his family. The years pass and he does not return but he remains confident that he will return one day. 

His room-mate talks in a language characterized by the dominance of philosophical and political concepts and terms. He spends generously on the worker. Later, we discover that the goal is to make the worker the subject for a study of an individual whose interests do not exceed his immediate individual needs. When the worker discovers this intended examination he feels insulted and this makes him revolt against his project. He tears up the money that he has dedicated his life to saving.

Theatre for Everybody Group

Origins

Theatre for Everybody Group is the outcome of years of work toward creating an alternative theatre in Gaza Strip. For too long theatre in Gaza has been prerogative of Jerusalem and West Bank. Cut off from the world during the long years of occupation, theatre in Gaza was dormant. But within the silence there were yet murmurs.  With strong desire and conviction, ten young people got together to share and learn the art of acting, directing and performing. They invited qualified artists and colleagues from Jerusalem to conduct workshops, training programs and organized productions. They established “Al-Janoub Theatre Troupe.” They started in 1994 a fruitful cooperation with Ashtar Theatre School and with Theatre Day Production. Both offered them intensive training sessions. With Ashtar Theatre School, they made one play and the collaboration with Theatre Day Production lasted for two years during which two plays produced. In 1996, six of the original group of ten branched out to establish “Gaza Theatre Lab.”  

Then, gradually, some differences appeared between Theatre Day Production and members of Gaza Theatre Lab. It was a question of methods of works but more deeply of philosophy. In 1997, Theatre for Everybody was born. The founders (Jamal Al-Rozzi, Hossam Al-Madhoun, and Marianne Blume) wanted before everything to maintain their independence and decided, despite all the difficulties, to find cooperation and financial aid for their projects.

What we are?

We are theatre makers and we want to take part in the society through art. We believe in theatre as an artistic production as well as a way to bring awareness in the society toward all the main problems. We believe that through plays, we can contribute to change the attitudes, to shake the preconceived ideas or at least to bring out the problems (social and psychological). Through entertainment, through shows, we do not lecture people, we just stimulate them, we question them about themselves, about their beliefs and their behavior. Our theatre is committed to the life in all its fullness but not directly political: we do not deliver messages. The artistic quality of our work is constantly our goal: the challenge for the coming years remains to create an audience and to make from theatre a daily cultural need as well as a usual event. A theatre considered as a tool to build the society is our concern but we would like to reach the point that a play could be chosen because of its artistic value. 

Productions: 


2015 War and Peace (theatre play on Tolstoy)
In cooperation with Az theatre – London
Performed in Gaza
Performed in London on 6th august (film) and Gaza, with skype link with the audiences of Gaza and London

2010 – 2011 The Tree, based on Guernica of Fernando Arabal
Director: Jamal Alrozzi
Performed in Gaza

2008 – 2009 “Through the Tunnel”
A play on the life’s of Gazan people under the siege and embargo imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip (daily life stories)
Director: Naem Naser
Actors from Gaza and Belgium
Performed in Gaza, Belgium, France and Luxemburg

2006 “The Wall” – Theater for Everybody production
A play on the segregation wall built by the Israeli occupation in Palestine
Director Sofian Albobsi (Belgium)
Actors: (from Gaza – Jerusalem and Belgium) Naem Naser, Kamel El-Basha, Philippe Domulin, Rami El-Banna, Gorgina Asfour
Performances: Belgium

2005 “Water Water” – Theater for Everybody production
A play on the water problem in Palestine
Director: Jamal Al Rozzi
Actors: Hossam El-Madhoun, Majda Abu Sharikh, Baha Elyazji, Mohammed Hissi.
Performances: Gaza Strip

2004 “Blue Gold” – International production on the problematic of water
Directors: Claudine Arts – Belgium and Subadh Batnaik – India
Actors: from Belgium, Palestine, India, and Rwanda
Performances: France, Belgium and Luxemburg

2003 “Hayat” – Theater for Everybody production
A play on the problem of malnutrition among pregnant women and children
Director: Jamal El-Rozzi
Actors: Hossam El-Madhoun, Mohammed Abu Karsh, Majda Abu Sharikh, Elena Abdo
Performances: Gaza Strip

2003 “Out of the Pcture” – Theater for Everybody production
A play on the right of disabled people to education
Directors: Philippe Domuline and Claudine Atrs
Actors: Jamal Al-Rozzi, Hossam El-Madhoun, Rami Al-Salmi, Emad Al-Rozzi, Rania Al-Katari
Performances: Gaza Strip

2002 “Checkpoint” – Theatre for Everybody production
Play on the checkpoints build by the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and its impact on the daily life of the Palestinian people.
Directors: Marianne Blume, Claudine Arts and Philippe Domuline
Actors: Naem Naser, Jamal Al-Rozzi, Hossam El-Madhoun, Najah Awadallah, Rami Al-Banna
Performances: France, Belgium and Luxemburg and Gaza
1999-2000 “One thousand and one flowers” – Theater for Everybody production
Director: Naem Naser
Actors: Jamal Al-Rozzi – Hossam Al-Madhoun – Mofyd Sweedan
Performances: 152 shows at Gaza Strip

1998 The Lively Death – Theater for Everybody production
By Athol Fugard (South Africa)
Director: Naem Naser
Actors: Jamal Al-Rozzi – Hossam Al-Madhoun – Marianne Blume
Performances: Amman International Theatre Festival (April 1998)+ Jerusalem Theatre Nights Festival (June 1998) + Gaza Strip.

1997 Lailat Al Omr – Palestinian/Belgian production
Improvisation: Theater for Everybody and Gaza Theater Lab.
Text writer: Hossam El-Madhoun
Directors: Philippe Dumoulin and Claudine Arts (Belgium)
Actors: Jelan El-Shikh – Naem Naser – Jamal Al-Rozzi – Hossam Al-Madhoun – Mohammed Abokarsh
Performances: Gaza Strip for “Gaza mental health program” + in Belgium and France during the “Festival Du Theatre Action”.

1996 Welcome to Hell – Palestinian – Belgian Production
Director: Phillippe Dumoulin (Belgium)
Actors: Ali Abuyasin – Naem Naser – Jamal Al-Rozzi – Hossam Al-Madhoun – Mohammed Hamdan – Mohammed AbuKwick – Rasmi Damo
Performances: Gaza (September 1996) France, Belgium and Luxemburg (2000)



Other activities:

2000 – 2015
Drama therapy programs for children, adults, and people with disabilities

1997 – 2005
Drama trainings and workshops for children and youth

2002
Partners in War Stories long term research and workshop with theatre groups from UK, France, Romania, Algeria, and Serbia

2005
Participate in Theatre in Place of War, long-term research initiated by Manchester University / Drama institution

2005
Participate in Drama in civil intervention international conference, Exeter University, UK

Festivals :
Festival Du Theatre Action, Belgium, 1998 – 2000 – 2002 – 2004 – 2006
Al-Fawanees International Theatre festival, Amman, Jordan, 1997 – 1998
Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Theatre Nights festivals 1998

The Team:

The Director: 

Naem Naser 

27 years’ experience in theatre and drama as a director, actor and trainer 

Founder of Masafat theatre group 

Participated as an actor in 27 theatre productions 

Director of more than 30 theatre play for adults and children 

Worker with Theatre for Everybody group as a director and an actor in several plays 

Participated in theatre festivals in Egypt, Jordan, France, Romania, Belgium and Luxembourg 

Naem is also Musician and Oud player, Naem has composed many songs and produced several music tapes, mainly for theatre shows

Naem the founder of Arab Music national band in Gaza 

The Actors: 

Jamal Al-Rozzi 

More than 30 years’ theatre actor, trainer and director

Participated in more than 30 theatre productions for adults and children

Participated in developing theatre texts through improvisation 

Trainer of acting skills 

Drama therapist 

Theatre production manager 

Participated in theatre festivals in Egypt, Jordan, France, Romania, Belgium and Luxemburg 

Participated in a long term research in drama in place of War with Manchester University 

Participated in Art for promoting social change conference with Exeter University 

Beside his involvement in theatre:

Jamal is considered a key person in the field of disability since 30 years, he is the executive manager of the National Society for Rehabilitation responsible for the coordination of persons with disability working group in Gaza Strip 

Jamal is also a board member of PNGO (Palestinian NGO’s Network)

Hossam Almadhoun 

25 years’ drama activist as actor, director and trainer, in drama in civil intervention, in education and drama therapist 

Participated as an actor and director in more than 20 productions for children and adults 

Trainer of acting skills 

Drama therapy specialist 

Theatre production manager 

Translator of 7 theatre plays from English to Arabic

Participated in theatre festivals in Egypt, Jordan, France, Romania, Belgium and Luxemburg 

Participated in a long term research in drama in place of War with Manchester University 

Participated in Art for promoting social change conference with Exeter University  

Beside his involvement in theatre:

Hossam is a leading professional in the field of child protection, manager of Child Protection Program at Ma’an Development Centre 

Trainer in child protection and ‘child protection in emergency’ 

A member of the child protection working group under the umbrella of UNICEF

A member of the child protection networks in Gaza Strip 

Member of ‘child protection in emergency’ platform

Hossam had a 7 years’ experience in heading an international organisation working in the field of water and sanitation and food security 

The writer: 

Sławomir Mrożek (29 June 1930 – 15 August 2013) was a Polish dramatist, writer and cartoonist. In 1963 Mrożek emigrated to Italy and France and then further to Mexico. In 1996 he returned to Poland and settled in Kraków. In 2008 he moved back to France. He died in Nice at the age of 83. 

Pledge of Support letter for the Gaza Cultural Centre Campaign

PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT for the Gaza Cultural Centre Campaign.

Email: gazacentrecampaign@aztheatre.org.uk

Organised by a group of artists and activists in Gaza, Ramallah, London and New York, this appeal is supported by Caryl Churchill (Playwright, UK), Harriet Walter (Actor, UK), Iman Aoun (Actor, Co-Director: Ashtar Theatre, Palestine), Omar Al Qattan (Chair: A M Qattan Foundation, UK), Wallace Shawn (Playwright, US), Jamal Al Rozzi (NGO Chief Executive Officer, Co-Director: Theatre for Everybody, Palestine), Jessica Litwak (Theatre Director, HEAT Collective, US), Ali Abu Yasin (Actor/Director, Palestine), Shalva Wise (Producer & Organizer, US), Jonathan Chadwick (Theatre Director, Az Theatre, UK), Hossam Al Madhoun (Child Protection Programme Manager, Co-Director: Theatre for Everybody, Palestine), Deborah Eisenberg (Writer, US), International Committee for Artists Freedom (UK)

We, the undersigned, are shocked at the total destruction of the Said Al Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza on August 9th, 2018 by a targeted Israeli military airstrike.

We stand with those in Gaza and the wider community who describe their great rage and deep pain at the obliteration of this symbol of Palestinian culture and identity, and as they mourn the destruction of one of the few large venues for theatre and music in besieged Gaza.

Since its establishment in 2004, Al Mishal served as a home for hundreds of plays, ceremonies, exhibits, musical performances and community events. The centre also included recreational activities for children who have been affected by three successive wars in Gaza, including a dabkeh dance school for hundreds of local children. It is a devastating loss for the already isolated community.

We pledge our support to continue the Al Mishal’s role through this international campaign to rebuild a cultural centre for Gaza.

The Gaza Cultural Centre Campaign organisers are committed to developing and working with an international action committee rooted in Gaza’s creative community.

We urge all those concerned with the importance of creative culture to pledge their support to this effort. We mean this to be a demonstration of the strength of our feeling and as a commitment to be active in the project of rebuilding a cultural centre for Gaza.

Statement by Palestinian Performing Arts Network. PPAN Statement here

See list of supporters here

Email: gazacentrecampaign@aztheatre.org.uk to pledge your support

NOTES:

  1. This pledge requests your name, email, occupation, and country of residence. This information will only be used for future correspondence about this project and will not be shared with anyone.
  2. You can pledge your support as an organisation or an individual. Your name (individual or organisation) will appear in public.
  3. The custodians of this support network’s list of members are Az Theatre   (London) and The HEAT Collective (New York).
  4. For further information about the destruction of the Al Mishal Cultural Centre:

Email your support: gazacentrecampaign@aztheatre.org.uk

Read in Arabic/قراءة هذا باللغة العربية

Read in French/Lire en Francais

Read in Spanish/Leer en Espagnol

Read in Italian/Leggi in Italiano

Read in German/ Lesen Sie hier auf deutsch

Read in Russian

Read in Turkish

Read in Portuguese

Read in Hebrew

The Story of Go – First ever public reading

The Story of Go (First Draft)

Radical Anthropology Group are collaborating in the presentation of a first ever public reading of this new play by Jonathan Chadwick

2pm-5pm Saturday 27 October 2018 at Daryll Forde Seminar Room University College London Anthropology Department, 14 Taviton St, Kings Cross, London WC1H 0BW

All Radical Anthropology Group events are free and open to the public

This dramatisation depicts a human society 12,000 years ago in deep crisis because their way of life is changing.  The women have withdrawn access to sex but the men are no longer able to go on a big-game hunt to make a collective provision of food.  The full moon is coming and tensions break out around the emerging movement towards hierarchical organisation amongst the men.  The dilemma expresses itself in the story of an adolescent transgender person who attempts to resolve the difficulties.

“What an extraordinary tour de force! I started reading it yesterday morning and the whole thing has been stirring round in my head in the hours since. I am knocked back by the scale your ambition. No-one has attempted anything like this before. Each time I read further, a few lines at a time, those voices speak to me in a new way, but mostly several hours later, as I try to re-imagine those sad turning-points in my own anthropological terms”. Chris Knight in an email to Jonathan Chadwick after reading THE STORY OF GO.

 

“ I was deeply impressed by Chris Knight’s Blood Relations: menstruation and the origins of culture (Yale 1991) when it was first published.  This vision of human development kept re-echoing in contemporary theatre projects and in classical texts in my work as a theatre-maker and director.  Then in the recent period I found Abdallah Ocalan’s prison writing extraordinary. In his Manifesto for a Democratic Civilisation (New Compass Press 2015), influenced by the work of Murray Bookchin, he delved back into the emergence of human dominance and hierarchy and came to fundamental conclusions about revolutionary movement, i.e. that it should be principally based on feminism given that he identified the original oppression to be that of women by men. How can we, in the twenty first century, understand, and become consciously active in, the scale and depth of change our society is going through without looking for corresponding historical processes of change?” Jonathan Chadwick

Appeal

We aim to make this reading participatory and open. If you want to take part by reading one of the characters, no matter what experience you might have, please contact info@aztheatre.org.uk

 

Jonathan Chadwick has been working in informal consultation with the Radical Anthropology Group in thinking through the development of The Story of Go. RAG is based at University College London. “Anthropology asks one big question: what does it mean to be human? To answer this, we cannot rely on common sense or on philosophical arguments. We must study how humans actually live – and the many different ways in which they have lived. This means learning, for example, how people in non-capitalist societies live, how they organise themselves and resolve conflict in the absence of a state, the different ways in which a ‘family’ can be run, and so on”. From Radical Anthropology Group website

Radical Anthropology Group http://radicalanthropologygroup.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebuild Gaza cultural centre project

The Al Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on the 9th August 2018.

The Al Mishal Centre was the only working theatre left in Gaza.  It was the venue of choice for theatre companies there and housed many arts projects.  It was the centre of the cultural and artistic community in Gaza.  READ MORE

Working with our friends in Gaza we immediately protested against this destruction and now we have pledged to rebuild a cultural centre for Gaza.

Our working group: Jamal Al Rozzi Theatre for Everybody, Gaza), Iman Aoun (Ashtar Theatre, Ramallah), Jonathan Chadwick (Az Theatre, London), Caryl Churchill (Playwright, London, Hossam Madhoun (Theatre for Everybody, Gaza), Jessica Litwak (HEAT Collective, New York), Shalva Wise (Activist/Producer, New York).

Az Theatre (London) is working closely with the HEAT Collective (New York) to share our project.

We are producing a film that will show the depth and breadth of culture and arts in Gaza and promote our project.  The film will be made in Gaza.  UK based theatre and film director, Caitlin Mcleod is working with the the team in Gaza, UK and USA

We are planning a global architectural contest that activate imaginations and skills internationally working with the creative community in Gaza.  We aim to work through an international network of arts and community centres to promote our project.

The story so far……

  • August 2018 UK theatre practitioners sign a letter to The Guardian to protest the destruction of the Al Mishal  READ THE LETTER
  • Az Theatre launches an appeal for support and money.  We have raised £5500. All of which money will be spent in Gaza to make the film.
  • International activists launch a ‘pledge of support’ letter.  SEE THE LETTER.  PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT

DONATE !

Hossam talks about the Great Right of Return protests in Gaza

The demonstrations and protests are totally peaceful, demonstrators do not have any weapons. They set car tyres on fire and the smoke only harms them. They throw stones at nobody as there are no solders nearby. Some try to reach the fence to hang up the Palestinian flag. Many are going for patriotic reasons, many kids are going just to watch. Many people are cooking for the demonstrators, many are practicing creative activities, playing football. The majority are protesting passively, some young men, youth are trying to reach the fence to take it down.  But people in tents well away from the fence have been shot by the Israelis.

People here are running out of hope. With the rapid deterioration of the situation in Gaza new phenomena have started to appear that we never ever witnessed before. Child labour and children begging at traffic lights, homeless families, escalating rates of attempted suicides among young people between 14-35 year olds, robberies and attacks on stores, all of which we never ever witnessed in Gaza before. With borders closed from all sides, with 64% unemployment amongst young people under 35 years old, with no horizon of any hope, it is easy to assume that most of those young people going to the border every Friday are not moved by patriotism but by hopelessness.

Originally it was the idea of civil society peace activists who started to communicate their ideas on Facebook.

The original idea was to start to educate the Palestinians about peaceful resistance, to convince people here of the value of peaceful resistance, and to spread their ideas among Palestinians everywhere and not only in Gaza.

They knew that this would take time and they were in no hurry. They wanted to reach a day where Palestinians in Gaza, in West Bank, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Syria were coming to the border with Israel to protest peacefully and ask for the realization of the United Nation General Assembly Resolution 194, stating the right of return for the people dispossessed from their homes in 1948.

They wanted first to generate support for the idea from all the solidarity campaigns all over the world; they wanted to make sure that there would be  collective peaceful marches and that they were properly covered by media.

As usual, Hamas and other hypocritical factions jumped on the idea and adapted it to their own purposes, for nothing other than distracting the attention of the people from Hamas’ obligations to the people of Gaza and their responsibility for reconciliation with Palestinian Authority.

Last October Egypt moderated between the PA and Hamas to put an end to 12 years of separation and division.

After signing the reconciliation agreement in Egypt which stated that Hamas will hand over all official institutions to the formal government, nothing happened.

We, as normal people, did not witness any change, and Hamas still in practice has all the power and authority.

Intersectionality and HERE THERE EVERYWHERE: Gaza-London. What Next?

‘Shukran! So great to feel connected to Gaza. Peace through art. Keep going. Keep spreading peace and love.’ Comment by participant at the HERE THERE EVERYWHERE events

From 7th -11th November 2017 Az Theatre curated an exhibition and ran a series of events at P21 Gallery in London. The occasion was the presentation by our partners, Theatre for Everybody in Gaza, of their stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War & Peace.  The exhibition brought together work by Tanya Habjouqa (photographer), Taysir Batniji (Video artist), Hazem Harb (performance video artist), Palestine History Tapestry Project, Laila Kassab (painter) and the Palestine Regeneration Team.  The events video-linked publics and experts in London with: the ‘War & Peace’ company in Gaza; with contributors to the book, Gaza as Metaphor; with mothers in Gaza attending a workshop organised by the Maan Development Agency; with school teachers (including the National President and members of the executive of the National Union of Teachers section of the National Education Union); with women activists from Gaza and from Jazir province in the autonomous Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (aka Rojava); with human rights activists and specialists in the study of genocide; with filmmakers who worked on a film about the first intifada (1987-1990) in Gaza; with students of Shakespeare; with the filmmaker of Ambulance, a film about paramedics in the 2014 Gaza war, with paramedics, psychotherapists and mental health specialists, public health experts, environmentalists and poets.

We decided to run such an extensive programme of work in order to help break down barriers between people working in different fields and to offer to other constituencies the kind of immediate working contact that Az Theatre has developed with Theatre for Everybody during our Gaza Drama Long Term project.  This is a ten-year (2009-2019) partnership aimed at undermining the blockade of Gaza through friendship, solidarity and creativity.  This decision was inspired and furthered by the idea of intersectionality.

I would like to make clearer why this idea is important to me.  As I do so I have to admit that I am not knowledgeable about, or well-read in, black feminist thinking nor in critical race theory from which this idea developed.  That’s not to say that I will never be but I don’t want to wait until I’m adept before talking about how this idea has struck me.  I first came across it in Angela Y Davis’ book Freedom is a Constant Struggle.  In this book Angela Y Davis talks about how limiting it is to describe struggles like that of the Palestinian people for justice, or that of indigenous people to protect their land against incursions by multinational oil corporations, or that of black people in many parts of the world against police and judicial violence, as being disconnected from each other.  Intersectionality insists on the specifics of a given movement and opens up that which links it to other movements.  For example, in a leaked document from a conference organised by an Israeli government-related think-tank it is clear that this ability to connect the Palestinian cause with other social movements was a matter of considerable concern for those committed to sustaining the Zionist project.  The report from the conference in April 2017 specifically identifies ‘intersectionality’ as a threat and described it as a major factor in the failure of the Israeli state to counter the BDS movement. The success of the Palestinian solidarity movement was to a major extent attributed to the fact that this struggle had been adopted as ‘symbolic’ in the struggle of many groups and movements for justice and freedom.

Being able to see how the issue of Palestinian freedom relates to a widespread series of interconnected concerns, including ‘humanitarianism’ and the constitution of the ‘international community’, is realistic from the point of view of current political imagination.  Giving full weight to the actuality and detail of what Palestinians are engaged with, whether they are in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Israel, in Jordan, in Lebanon and in the other countries of the world to which they have been dispersed, is completely in tune with seeing the impossibility of considering their situation in isolation.  Of course their situation is special but it becomes indescribable if similarities, resonances and connections are pushed out of the picture.  Of course this is true of many, if not all, of the issues that connect with that of the Palestinians. This is more than saying that they are not alone from the point of view of active solidarity and there is no need to insist – although this may a certain times be useful – that this unity is built on the identification of a common enemy, be it ‘neo-liberalism’ or ‘corporate capitalism’ or ‘neo-imperialism’.

Our events in November were not specifically designed to address questions at this level of generality but they offered an invitation to shift the narrative, to alter the field of play.  By addressing people here in London and in Gaza as artists, teachers, parents, environmentalists, filmmakers, activists, paramedics, public health experts, Shakespeare students, poets, human rights activists, architects we were constructing an alternative conception to that which would describe people only as Palestinians (or as English or white or black) therefore seeming to impose identity as a kind of fate presenting people as passive victims.  Intersectionality offers us the opportunity of seeing the connection between different movements and struggles as well as seeing the complexity of how we are as human beings.  It is the dynamic interaction between the connectivity linking issues and movements and the vision of human beings as relational creatures, making ourselves and each other through a multiplicity of relationships, encounters, groups and institutions, that makes intersectionality so welcome.  I am grateful for this idea that can clarify and advance specificity and difference while holding and embracing connection and generality.

For me there are two uses of ‘intersectionality’. One is to gain insight, from its connective capability, into political and social movement(s).  The other is to gain insight, from its cohesive capability, into more fully imagining human beings.  Of course even more intriguing is what might be the connection between these capabilities.

The general political discourse of our society is almost hopelessly limited to relating the worth of a policy to its immediate benefits for a given sector or group of people.  The reduction of politics to a narrow idea of economics is a signature of neo-liberalism.  This ideology also articulates a rigidity in the relationship between the governors and the governed.  At the same time it obscures the interconnections between ‘home’ policy and ‘foreign’ policy.  For example, let’s imagine that a government is elected whose main election promise is to restructure the relationship of the UK to Israel/Palestine.  The new policy is designed to bring pressure on Israel to conform with international law and the United Nations resolutions relating to its activities.  The UK would commit itself to impose sanctions unilaterally and to open channels of support and communication with the worldwide Palestinian community on the basis of the right of return.  The government would encourage civil society solidarity contacts with all constituencies and sectors of Palestinian and Israeli society that were active in pressurising the Israeli state to conform with international law, ending the occupation of territories outside the internationally agreed partition borders of 1948.  Although the demands behind this policy are perfectly reasonable it is clear that such a policy initiative in the present circumstances is impossible.  A lot of other factors in the circumstances would have to change and, unlike, say, re-nationalisation of the railways or de-privatisation and increased public finance for the health service, which appear to be policy options that are programmatically unlinked, a change in policy towards Palestine/Israel appears unlikely unless there are other consequential changes such as decoupling the UK from US Middle East regional strategies, re-organising military and ‘security’ co-operation with ‘traditional’ allies in the EU/NATO, distancing the UK from the ‘axis of evil’ neo-conservative strategic agenda of the US.  A change in policy towards Palestine/Israel would alter the conversation between the UK, Russia and China.

However such a change would have to have engaged with popular opinion in the UK.  How could a popular consensus for such a change come about without it being connected to policy changes relating to issues closer to home?  Whereas the issue of Palestine/Israel may not be a lynchpin of wider policy change it is related to questions of racism, democracy, environmental sustainability, economic development and growth, freedom of movement, human rights and social justice. Given a little thought it is clear that this policy would have to be a part of a wide-ranging alteration that would break the UK’s relationship to the neoliberal consensus of the ‘international community’.  The risk would be, unless a critical number of other nation-states also changed their policy the UK would be isolated and there may be some kind of speculative attacks on the currency, the imposition of sanctions and attempts through the international security and intelligence ‘community’ to undermine the UK government.

My argument is that this change would only be fully possible if there was something amounting to a paradigm shift in ‘home’ and ‘foreign’ policy.  However I’m not saying that activism on the Palestine/Israel issue should be suspended until all the necessary co-ordinates are in place for overall political change.  I am simply pursuing the political wisdom enunciated by Nelson Mandela’s insight that: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” .  I am searching out the definition of the connection of our freedom with that of the Palestinians. Neither is it necessary to say that that the Palestinians’ struggle for justice is the unique emblem of the struggle for human freedom nor is it true to say that the oppressor, in all instances, is the same, as if there is some central source of domination that, if discovered and expunged, will bring love, joy and peace to the Earth.

It is not always wise to focus too strongly on what might appear to be a common enemy.  However, there remains the question of whether ideologies, in order to be cohesive, have common underlying thematics that can link, though affinity and correspondence, a multiplicity of human activities, attitudes, mentalities and beliefs.  Without believing that systems of belief move in perfectly-formed phalanxes it is possible to see how ideas and institutions have coherent internal rhymes and external structural symmetries.  I have generally expressed this unifying coherence by referring to ‘an image of the human’.  This basic idea of humanity is problematic because it can give the illusion of an absolute essence, an irreducible quality that announces itself as ‘the human’.  These views of the human can be and must be subjective, reflexive and circumscribed.  For example, definitions or even perceptions of ‘the human’ can be subtended by ‘the subhuman’ or ‘the superhuman’.  It is clearly no good appealing to the delusions of common sense in this instance.  There may be as many definitions of ‘the human’ as there are human beings. Let’s say that an historically and culturally circumscribed ideology is held together by ‘an image of the human’ and one of the ways in which they operate is by providing representations (attitudes, beliefs and events) through which people can recognise themselves, and can even engender a sense of belonging. The most obvious example of this is homo economicus, the ‘image of the human’ that lies at the core of neoliberalism, in other words, the notion that human beings are rational, self-interested, utility-seeking entities.  Of course we know that the operationalisation of this idea drives people to exhibit the features that affirm and continue to sustain the system and that this happens, like in any social system, by the internalisation or ‘living through’ of those values.  This I believe brings us close to understanding the connection between the two aspects of intersectionality that I referred to.

What is it that makes a human being see in another’s oppression the lineaments of their own?  This is the sinew and lifeblood of solidarity between people and it is a deep recognition that so often moves people into action for change, not because of what is happening to them but because of what is happening to somebody else.  Political and social institutions are the crystallisations of these urges in people.  What seems to happen is that institutions and social structures are constantly refreshed and re-enforced but also can become bereft of credibility and no longer accord with how people see themselves, not only individually but collectively.  Of course in periods of change there are defining issues which express a much more general movement and it seems unlikely that the issue of Palestine/Israel will assume this crucial defining role in any social movement in the UK.  However, this idea shouldn’t be discounted.  Things are strange.

For example, the announcement by Donald Trump that the US will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel seems at first sight like a ghastly imposition of raw power and a major setback for the cause of peace and justice. I don’t welcome it. But since Trump is generally associated with white supremacist racist views and some of his supporters have expressed anti-jewish views and because the ideological base from which he has emerged is a ruling establishment that have historically united a discrimination against jews with a discrimination against black people, his ‘offer’ to the Israelis may even to them seem like a poisoned chalice. Trump is uniting the opposition against him.  Of course this is dangerous because it also means that his supporters become cornered, their animus intensifies, their fear of loss increases and the corner they are in looks similar to the corner that the US is knocking itself into ‘on the world stage’.

At times it feels as if we are living through an epic the subject of which is the passing away of a whole way of life or system of human organisation.  This story often reminds me of Shakespeare’s Richard III.  This play depicts a figure who is at the threshold of the inauguration of the Tudor dynasty, the final unification of the English ‘kingdom’ after the civil wars of the preceding period, the wars that pitched different factions of the landowning classes with their warlord leaders against each other in the struggle for dominance.  Since Shakespeare was concerned with a celebration of the Tudor regime which was founded through the victory in battle by the grandfather (Henry VII) of the monarch that dominated his times (Elizabeth I) his depiction of the key figure (Richard III) of the old regime was like devil who through his outrageous and ostentatious wickedness eventually united all against him so that, with his destruction, all the evil that he had gathered into himself was also destroyed.  The movement of the play based on a kind of primitive ritual drama of exorcism has a physiological metaphor at its centre and it is as if by Richard’s death on the battlefield of Bosworth Field (deserted even by his horse, his own mother turned against him halfway through the play) a poisonous boil is lanced and the body politic is cured. Richard flagrantly embodies and personifies all that was wrong, corrupt, dishonest, venal and murderous in the old regime and by his removal a political and social rebirth could take place.

If only political movement were as simple and enjoyable as this brilliant play. Our social and political history has been haunted by the desire for this simple drama, wherein the execution of the king (whether in public or behind closed doors) delivers renewal.  It has proven to be an illusion and this illusion has hidden the emergence of real problems. It has usually turned out that the institutional mold far outlives the individuals that enact them. I say this as somebody that would like to see the abolition of the monarchy.  Anyway, the point I’m making is that the arrival of leaders like Trump (Italy, being a more advanced society, came up with Berlusconi some time ago) is a sign of the desperation of the ruling elites of a political order that is on its last legs.  Trump appears so like the paper tiger that Mao Zedong described as personifying imperialism. That his nemesis might be the regime that Mao played such a key part in creating may haunt his dreams, if he has the imaginative capacity to dream clearly.

Unity will not come solely from opposition to Trump.  All I am pointing out is how policies on issues that are not obviously central to a given constituency can have symbolic importance and can act as a conduit connecting up the relationship between ideologies and strategic outcomes.  I believe intersectionality gives a powerful optic into this connectivity and sheds light on the nature of political regimes.  But also it offers us a pluralistic way of looking at ourselves and our fellow human beings, not as singular predictable representative entities but as complex beings intersected, that is to say made, by different and various interactions.  This is what makes it possible for me to say at certain moments that I am a Viking but also at another to say I am a Palestinian (certainly no less credible than when John Kennedy told the crowds ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’).

I am happy that AzTheatre organised the HERE THERE EVERYWHERE events at P21 Gallery.  Working with visual arts opened up a dimension in our work that relates to imagining what can be brought together in a creative space.  The Gallery is keen to further the work we started.  The next phase of the Gaza Drama Long Term project has as yet to be decided upon.  The performances of War & Peace in Gaza that have been received with such enthusiasm will be coming to an end soon.  We are all thinking about what to do next.

 

HERE THERE EVERYWHERE: GAZA-LONDON comes and goes

HERE THERE EVERYWHERE comes and goes in London but Theatre for Everybody’s production of ‘War & Peace’ continues in Gaza!

What people said about our exhibition and events at P21 Gallery 7-11 November:

“Thank you for the tremendous 5-day event. I am sorry I was not able to come to more days. Gaza needs events like this so that they will not succumb to isolation”.
Swee Ang Chai, Orthopedic Surgeon, Founder of Medical Aid for Palestinians

“I must congratulate you on organising this event with such a passion, care and sensitivity. Well done, it has been an amazing and needed event. We need to keep going and hopefully this can continue. It has been an inspiration”.
Nasser Golzari, Architect

“Congratulations on your mammoth achievement in planning and initiating such a wide-ranging week on Palestine”.
Janet Henfrey, Actor

“It was a privilege to be involved in such a successful week.”
Martin Brown, Former Assistant General Secretary of Equity

“Your week of discussions between London and Gaza have been as inspiring as they have been interesting and thought-provoking.”
Chris Curling, Film Producer

“Your tremendous efforts are highly appreciated by teachers, academics and professionals in Gaza.”
Dr Nazmi Al Masri, Islamic University of Gaza

“I found the discussion fascinating.”
Professor Penny Green, International State Crime Initiative

“Shukran! So great to feel connected to Gaza.  Peace through art.  Keep going.  Keep spreading peace and love.”
Miriam

“A very moving, rich and valuable series of events emphasising the need for self-determination for the wonderful people of Palestine – congratulations to all!”
Rosamine and Abe

“Congratulations for this great work, I wish I could be there.”
Hazem Harb, Artist from Gaza

There will be a discussion organised by Association of Jungian Analysts with Jonathan Chadwick on the thinking behind the ‘War & Peace’/HERE THERE EVERYWHERE: GAZA-LONDON work on Tuesday 21st November 8.15pm. Book Here.

The photographs are by Tanya Habjouqa.  We showed six of her series, WOMEN OF GAZA, at the exhibition.  If you are interested in buying a print please contact Agata Bar at NOOR  Our project will benefit by receiving 50% of the sale price.

 

 

HERE THERE EVERYWHERE: GAZA-LONDON P21 Gallery 7-11 November/Our Programme

HERE THERE EVERYWHERE: GAZA – LONDON

7th November – 11th November 2017 P21 Gallery

‘live events space’

Programme

 

Date
All day every day ·      Images from Gaza, video art by Hazem Harb. Design by Louie Whitemore

·      work from Art Under Siege

·      Photographs by Tanya Habjouqa

·      Looped interviews from the artists involved in War and Peace production in Gaza.

·      Video from Theatre for Everybody’s production of War and Peace.

·      Installation by Palestine Regeneration Team

·      Videos from Az Theatre’s and Theatre for Everybody’s Gaza Drama Long Term project

·      Filming by/for film project directed by Mohammed Jabaly

Tuesday 7th November 6.30/8.30 pm Launch event: keynote welcome: Tolstoy, War & Peace and ‘war on terror’. Video link up with Theatre for Everybody’s War & Peace production in Gaza
8.00/10.00pm GAZA AS METAPHOR: impact of a book.

Conversation with Ghada Karmi, actvist, writer and doctor, Dina Matar, (contributing co-editor with Helga Tawil el Souri) from SOAS Centre for Media Studies and in Gaza (through video link up) with Naim Al Khatib, writer, and friends

Wednesday 8th November

 

12pm/2pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: PARENTS

Artist educator, Rebecca Snow, in London working with a Gazan artist,runs a ‘family art’ session with parents and pre-school children simultaneously in London and Gaza with a live video link

5pm/7pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: TEACHERS

Teachers in London talk to teachers in Gaza. This encounter is organised with help from the National Union of Teachers. In Gaza: Dr Nazmi Al Masri, Vice President for External Relations at the Islamic University of Gaza

7/9pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS

Live video link up between Palestinian and Kurdish activists in Gaza and Rojava/Eastern Anatolia. In London conversation led by Dr Radha d’Souza, activist lawyer and writer. In Gaza: Andaleeb Adwan, Gaza Community Media Centre and Maha Barakat, journalist and activist. In Rojava: TBC.This event is organised in partnership with Peace in Kurdistan

 

Thursday 9th November
Friday 10th November 6.30pm/8.30pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: GAZA & JUSTICE:

Can what the Israeli state is doing in Gaza be described as genocide? Experts and justice-seekers in London, including Professor Penny Green and Gaza talk. This event is organised in partnership with the International State Crime Initiative. Speakers: TBC

8pm/10pm   Film plus PEOPLE TO PEOPLE:   VOICES FROM GAZA Antonia Caccia and Maysoon Pachachi’s groundbreaking film about the first Intifada made in 1989 plus a video-linked conversation between the filmmakers and those in Gaza who participated in the Intifada and the film. This conversation marks a tribute the 30th anniversary of the 1987 Intifada which changed the face of global popular resistance.
Saturday 11th November 12 noon/2pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: GAZA & SHAKESPEARE

Students of Shakespeare at the Islamic University of Gaza and in London make a live video encounter. This event is anchored in London by Esther Ruth Elliott and in Gaza by Dr Mahmoud Baroud of the Islamic University of Gaza.

2pm/4pm Film and PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: PARAMEDICS

AMBULANCE Mohamed Jabaly’s film about ambulance crews during the 2014 war on Gaza followed by a conversation between paramedics in London and Gaza.

4pm/6pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: PSYCHOTHERAPISTS AND MENTAL HEALTH EXPERTS

Psychotherapists and people concerned mental health in London and Gaza talk. This event is being organised in partnership with Palestine Trauma Centre and UK-Palestine Mental Health Network

6pm/8pm PEOPLE TO PEOPLE: PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS

Environmental activists in London and in Gaza talk about the natural consequences of human-made disaster. In London: Dr. Derek Summerfield, psychiatrist, writer and activist. Dr Majdi Ashour, University of Edinburgh In Gaza: Dr. Khamis Elessi, Islamic University of Gaza

8pm/10pm UNFORESEEN project presentation. This event will resume the work of the project designed to link up young creative’s in the UK and in Gaza followed by spoken word and poetry performance

 

 

Islington North Dramatic Arts Group season September/November 2017

ISLINGTON NORTH DRAMATIC ARTS GROUP

Creative Drama Sessions

Join us! Take part!

From Thursday 28th September – Thursday 2nd November 2017 we will run 6 creative sessions. Thursdays at 7pm at Whittington Park Community Centre. An audience will be invited to the last session for a showing of the work.

If you want to join us and take part in the creative sessions you must be prepared to attend all the sessions and pay £6 per session. Get in touch and book your place. 0207 263 9807 info@aztheatre.org.uk

INDAG is a community-based project aimed at providing expression for local talent for people of all ages (over 18) and all backgrounds. Participation is not restricted to people who live locally. This initiative is from Az Theatre, based in Holloway, working internationally and locally. We started INDAG in February 2017 and we had six open creative sessions in April and May 2017.

What people said about the creative sessions in April/May:

“I felt completely in the moment, while also challenged but just as much it was pleasantly exciting”

“I started off really nervous which created a lot of tension in my body and by the end of the workshop I was feeling relaxed and centred”

“Theatre has a very unique ability to tap into our growth process and reproduce it, taking us back to our primitive roots”

Find out more about INDAG online at https://aztheatre.org.uk/workshops/islington-north-dramatic-arts-group/

Registered Company No. 05113071   UK Registered Charity No. 1112922