What people said about the online readings of SOMEBODY ELSE and THE FIELD

SOMEBODY ELSE 

by Jonathan Chadwick

online reading presented on Thursday 17th April 2020

with Laura Lake Adebisi and Ruth Lass

Alice is a refugee. She has been badly brutalised. She and Margarette, who has spent her working life as an actor, are living together as a part of a scheme called ONE TO ONE.  The scheme ‘matches’ refugee women with women who have volunteered to take mentoring roles.  The apartment they live in is on the northern shores of the Mediterranean. Unable at first to speak and move, Alice eventually proves that she can help Margarette perhaps more than Margarette can help her.

‘Wonderful play, astonishing performances, a new medium for these new times – a deep bow to you all’

‘a complex, lyrical and profound play and..a very moving and profound performance’

‘Thank you so much for such a powerful play! The bird and the angel, you were fantastic! Bravo!

‘It had great emotional truth and each actor zoomed in at us, as if we were the other character.  The intimacy of that was extraordinarily right for this time of lockdown’

‘I was with you in that house by the Mediterranean.  I swam, I was a fish, an actress, a daughter, a woman.  It was magic. Your two voices mixed and were so close and so far away”

THE FIELD 

by Jonathan Chadwick

online reading presented Thursday 23rd April 2020

with

Amed Hashimi, Mikhail Sen, Ruth Lass, Laila Alj, Laura Lake Adebisi, Annie Firbank and Lloyd Trott

Three people, two of whom are theoretical physicists working at a hadron collider, arrive in a field and decide to buy the adjacent house and have a child. Elsewhere a young woman, distraught at the death of her sister, plants a tree and meets a singer. Rebellion, floods and financial collapse precipitate a social revolution.

‘It was a great reading.  I liked the mood, the pace and the anticipation of it’

‘An intense experience. I was completely drawn in.’

‘I like the mix of revolution and counter-revolution, culture and counter-culture’

‘Marvellous actors!’

‘All this weaving between different sciences and questioning about what it is to be, and all these diverse temporalities, these various loves, these different perceptions of existence, constitute a poetic and disturbing work’.

‘We are awed and so impressed by your extraordinary capacity to weave together so many threads in one play and by the actors’ skill in pulling it all off and handling such a rich and complex text with such aplomb and all of you for managing that on zoom! Deepest admiration and gratitude to the whole amazing crew’

The Field -online reading Thursday 23rd April 7.30pm (UK time) – see invitation

THE FIELD

a play by Jonathan Chadwick

Three people, two of whom are theoretical physicists working at a hadron collider, arrive in a field and decide to buy the adjacent house and have a child. Elsewhere a young woman, distraught at the death of her sister, plants a tree and meets a singer. Rebellion, floods and financial collapse precipitate a social revolution.

with

Amed Hashimi, Mikhail Sen, Ruth Lass, Laila Alj, Laura Lake Adebisi, Annie Firbank and Lloyd Trott

online reading Thursday 23rd April 2020 from 7.30pm* for 8.10pm start (UK time)

*Participants can arrive from 7.30pm and get to know how we are using the zoom technology. If they wish, they can then take part in ‘public applause for health workers’ at 8pm (for UK residents) and then be ready to start the online reading at 8.10pm

If you want to attend this online reading on Thursday 23rd April at 7.30pm/8.10pm please click on the zoom invitation below at that time and enter the password.

Your microphone will be muted when you arrive in the space. We ask you to turn your video off and select Gallery View and ‘hide all non-video participants’. There will be a discussion afterwards.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/8239997145?pwd=YjR5OE10VDVwN2xqZm1PUCtIZzRGdz09

Meeting ID: 823 999 7145

Password: 034675

Further information: info@aztheatre.org.uk

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Somebody Else – online reading Thursday 16th April 7.30pm

SOMEBODY ELSE

a play by Jonathan Chadwick

online reading

Our reading on Thursday 16th April 2020 at 7.30pm was successful with approximately 40 people participating. Here is one review in International Times by Jan Woolf:

“I concentrate instead on live streaming and the feeling of collective consciousness, singling out a play reading ‘Somebody Else’ by Jonathan Chadwick with actors Laura Lake Adebisi and Ruth Lass about the relationship between a refugee and her helper.  It had great emotional truth and each actor zoomed in at us, as if we were the other character. The intimacy of that was extraordinarily right for this time of lock down and really made the best of Zoom. Unlike the National Theatre’s live streaming, which I’ve experienced as theatre coming through the wrong medium. Stage theatre, like love, needs pheromones”

with


Laura Lake Adebisi

Ruth Lass

Alice is a refugee. She has been badly brutalised. She and Margarette, who has spent her working life as an actor, are living together as a part of a scheme called ONE TO ONE.  The scheme ‘matches’ refugee women with women who have volunteered to take mentoring roles.  The apartment they live in is on the northern shores of the Mediterranean. Unable at first to speak and move, Alice eventually proves that she can help Margarette perhaps more than Margarette can help her.  

If you want to attend this online reading on Thursday 16th April at 7.30pm please click on the zoom invitation below at that time.

We ask people who attend to have their microphones on mute and their video turned off during the reading.  There will be a discussion afterwards.

Jonathan Chadwick is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: SOMEBODY ELSE online reading

Time: Apr 16, 2020 07:30 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/8239997145?pwd=YjR5OE10VDVwN2xqZm1PUCtIZzRGdz09

Meeting ID: 823 999 7145

Password: 034675

This online reading is one of two.  We are exploring the use of zoom as a medium for dramatic work.  Watch out for the online reading of THE FIELD by Jonathan Chadwick on Thursday 23rd April at 7.30

Questions and follow up: info@aztheatre.org.uk

www.aztheatre.org.uk

People of Gaza in yet another time of crisis – Part 2 Friday 17th April at 4.30 GMT+1 Join Us

Follow-up online event talking to people in Gaza about the impact of Covid-19

Friday 17th April 4.30 GMT +1

Join us. Send this invitation on.

We’ll be talking to Hossam Madhoun, Abeer Abu Seif, Salma, their daughter, Jamal Al Rozzi and friends in Gaza at this event.

Just click the zoom link below at the date and time above if you wish to attend and enter the password:
Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/182172777?pwd=UVNMVE54aVdRYnc3dWxZRE9USlpXdz09

Meeting ID: 182 172 777
Password: 479088

  • Hossam is the Director of a Child Protection Programme for a large NGO
  • Abeer is an administrative manager for a key international medical aid provider
  • Jamal is the CEO of a major rehabilitation NGO
  • Salma is studying Law at University in Gaza

Our last gathering on Friday 27th March inspired a lot of interaction between teachers, mental health workers, lawyers in and outside Gaza.  Many people signed a letter to the Director of the World Health Organisation.  
There will be a discussion at the end of the event to discuss continued activity in support of people in Gaza.

CLICK HERE for World Health Organisation updates

Notes from our online gathering on Friday 27th March

45 people from all over the world joined our online conversation with Hossam Madhoun and his daughter, Selma, in Gaza on Friday 27th March.

Many initiatives were discussed. Action around the issue of education and the availability of resources was one focus.

Making a coherent response through sending letters demanding that Israel lift its blockade was another.

see below for links referred to in the online conversation

Here is a ‘model’ letter which you might adapt:

To whom it may concern

Regarding the likely impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on the people of Gaza and the necessity of ending the blockade of the territory by Israel

We demand that our political representatives make urgent representations to the Israeli Government to end the blockade of the Gaza Territories since it exacerbates the potentially catastrophic impact of the Coronavirus on the population there.

The blockade by land, air and sea has, over the past decade and a half, severely weakened the ability of the Gaza population to deal with the impact of the virus especially as it has involved the blocking of medical equipment, medicines and building materials.  Large sections of the population have no access to clean water and this is made worse by the severity of the electricity cuts, supply is on for only 4 hours per day. The medical services have also been incapacitated by three large-scale armed conflicts in the past decade.  The economic situation remains disastrous with 45% unemployment (60% amongst under 25year olds), 70% of the people are food insecure.  The territory is one of the most densely populated in the world with 2 million inhabitants in a total area of 365 square kilometres/141 square miles, 70% are refugees.  13,000 people are homeless.

People in Gaza will find the recommended required strategies of social distancing for prevention and self isolation in the case of infection almost completely impossible.

There are only between 60-100 ventilator/respirators in Gaza.  The Israeli Government announced that it was sending hundreds of testing kits.  It has sent 200. 

The United Nations has declared the Israeli actions in and around Gaza to be illegal since they constitute ‘collective punishment’ of an entire population. 

We call on our political representatives to demand that the Israeli government face its responsibility as the occupying power and lift the blockade. 

Hossam Madhoun, Child Protection Programme Organiser for a large NGO in Gaza and Co-Director of Theatre for Everybody sent this information about the Coronavirus in Gaza:

The Gaza Strip in the Days of Corona – Update March 28, 2020

Notes from Hossam Madhoun after online gathering of 45 people organised by Az Theatre on Friday 27th March

  • Every person who comes into Gaza is required to go into quarantine.
  • There are three quarantine centers that are currently full (~1400 people)
  • There are approximately 2000 people in quarantine at home. The numbers grow exponentially (as in the rest of the world)
  • The Hamas announced that it is planning on building additional quarantine centers.
  • The conditions in the centers are difficult:
  • Many people in a room (up until 8)
  • Low level hygiene
  • Lack of food
  • Unprofessional care
  • 118 tests have been undertaken that were marked ‘suspicious’ (unclear what this means)
  • There are 9 known cases as of today. There is a fear that the real number is much higher
  • There is a serious shortage of hygienic materials, gloves etc.
  • In the past, Israel transferred hand sanitizers, but stopped providing this due to needs here in Israel
  • These products can be purchased in India, but the shipment will take at least one month.
  • The WHO has sent tests, but there are not enough (less than 1000)
  • There is money (from the Emirates and Qatar among others). The problem is finding a source for supply
  • There are not enough medical staffs. The Hamas is trying to increase the staffs. Meanwhile, they have added 80 people to the medical and para-medical teams.
  • There are 59 respirators in Gaza. Twenty of them are used by people who do not have the virus. In any event, the number of respirators is much too small to handle an outbreak of the pandemic.
  • The parts of the existing respirators are dual-purpose and, therefore, hard to attain.
  • Gaza is competing with all the countries in the world over the respirators, gloves and safety suits. Gaza is usually at the bottom of the list.
  • There is one factory in the West Bank that is producing the suits, so there is some hope that Gaza will be able to purchase them from there. However, Israel is also trying to purchase suits from that factory.
  • The situation in the hospitals is better than it was a year ago/half a year ago. Most of the hospitals are directly connected to the power station in the Gaza Strip. They also have electricity 24 hours a day. However, there are hospitals that have electricity 14 hours a day (or on for 8 hours, off for 8 hours)
  • The power stations are working better than they did in the past – all of the turbines have been replaced and they are no longer dependent on an Israelis source; they receive fuel from Qatar.
  • The water situation has not changed; it remains very bad. There is no possibility of drawing water from the coastal aquifer. Most of the population depends upon water donations and on mineral water.
  • Even with the improvements in the electricity supply to the sewage facilities, there are still many problems concerning waste and sewage treatment.
  • There are many cases of illness due to the water situation.
  • It is unclear whether there are fewer breathing problems because there is less need to use generators.
  • The Gaza Strip needs, now more than ever, to depend on local production. The fishing industry has become an important source of food and income.
  • Israel returned fishing boats to Gaza that they had previously taken away; however, most of these boats are not in a usable condition. Organizations have asked permission from Israel to let in boat motors, fiberglass and ropes for fishing in order to rejuvenate the fishing industry.
  • Concerning agriculture – there is a demand that Israel allows in ‘dual-purpose’ materials that can increase the ability of Gazan farmers to meet the dietary needs of the population. One of the fights now is over letting in fertilizer.
  • 80% of all the products are bought from Israel. This is the reason that Israel (in addition to the blockade) remains the key for Gaza to be able to increase its production of products for the local population. 20% comes mainly from Egypt.
  • Hamas announced that it is stopping marketing its agricultural products to Israel and the West Bank. The economy in Gaza is dependent upon income from selling its products outside its borders. The reason for forbidding this export is tied to the desire to prevent increasing prices in Gaza. This decision has internal logic, but it will not be able to last in the long-term.
  • Organizations asked Israel to allow Gaza to market processed food products to the West Bank (canned goods, olive oil, spices etc.). As of today, Israel only allows exporting of these products to countries outside of the region.
  • All of this is relevant only if it possible to still work (that is, there is no lock-down/quarantine).
  • There are major communication problems in the Gaza Strip. There is a great need for equipment. Without this equipment, Gaza could find itself without the possibility to have internet, which has become the main way in the world to continue to provide education, engage in hi-tech and to market products, due to the Covid-19 virus. Israel has never allowed 3rd or 4th generation of networks into the Gaza Strip. Organizations have demanded that Israel change these restrictions so that society can function.
  • The Erez terminal is closed most of the from both the Israeli and Gaza side. Everyone who enters Gaza goes into quarantine. All of the movement of workers from Gaza into Israel has stopped. There is no arrangement for workers to remain in Israel during this crisis.
  • The Rafiah crossing is open, but there are rumors that it will close soon.
  • Kerem Shalom and Salah-el din are the only crossings that are open now (for specific merchandise – construction materials and gas for cooking)
  • Small numbers of critical patients can still come into Israel from Gaza for treatment.
  • The Ministry of Health has established a committee in Gaza to deal with the lack of doctors, hospitals and equipment. However, they cannot supply what they need.
  • If products are purchased, they can enter via Kerem Shalom.
  • Help for Gaza is dependent on Israel explicitly allowing such help to be given (border crossings, treatment ship, etc.)
  • There is a Palestinian-Israeli committee that works together on certain issues, but it only works in the West Bank. There does not appear to be an Israeli official in charge of managing the Corona crisis in Gaza. We should try to learn if there is an Israeli politician who is willing to work on this crisis.
  • The Gaza Strip and the West Bank remain separated from one another (due, in part, to the Israeli government’s policy). Therefore they cannot work together on this issue, even if they wished to do so (which is unclear). The economic systems are separate. For example, Gaza farmers cannot simply sell their produce in the West Bank.
  • Israeli organizations are calling for lifting the blockade on Gaza, due to this crisis.
  • It is important that Israel allows Gazans – especially medical staff – go to the West Bank so that they can get training, as well as get a little time off. It is also important to be able to let patients out so they can get needed medical treatment.
  • It is important for Israelis to learn from Gazans what is happening here – in terms of Covid-19 and in general. A campaign is needed that will convince Israelis that the outbreak of the virus in Gaza is also ‘our problem.’
  • There is a need to find movers and shakers who have the clout and the money and the network to make a difference in Gaza (e.g., Bill Gates). It is important to get this story into the media and keep it there.
  • Gaza is now facing a real humanitarian crisis. It is no longer ‘theoretical.’ This message needs to get out to the world.

Here are links that were referred to during the online conversations:

OCHA: https://www.ochaopt.org/content/covid-19-emergency-situation-report-1

THEATRE FOR EVERYBODY: https://www.facebook.com/TFEPalestine/

GAZA IN CONTEXT: http://www.gazaincontext.com/

WE ARE NOT NUMBERS: https://wearenotnumbers.org

WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/crises/opt/en/

WHO TWITTER: @WHOopt 

DONATE: https://www.maan-ctr.org/

PSC ACTION: https://www.palestinecampaign.org/digital-day-of-action-for-palestine/

#LiftTheBlockade

Please contact info@aztheatre.org.uk for further information



 

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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 !

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