The Meaning of Being Human Song -Lyrics

Below are the lyrics in progress of this collectively created song, created to inspire people to take action on climate change at the time of COP26 in Glasgow November 2021. More adaptations and contributions are welcome!

Come to the gathering: Saturday 9th October 2021 at Mildmay Community Centre

Lyric from Lucien 25/08/21 tidied up and with an option for line 8 suggested by Ann Bliss on 25/08/21:

The Earth is Our Home
Listen to the people
Hear what we have to say
We require action
We have to find a way
In every town and country
Fossil fuels must fall
We must reach zero emissions
In three decades, not four
 In this decade, none more/not four

We must stop the fires
We must stop the flooding
We must be the change in Climathon
We must not be silenced
By the carbonisers
We must build a future for everyone
The world is in our hands
The earth is our home
What’s stopping us now?

Lyric suggested by Arif Jamal on 26/08/21

Measly male misers
Misery makers
We're gonna crush your ego
Expose you fakers

You lie for profits
Greed and growth
Laying waste to the planet
While you brag and boast

To us you are the dumbest of fools
Brats spat out of public schools
You can't expect us to follow your rules
When we'd be much better off being led by mules

So we're giving you notice
We're taking the power
The world needs saving
from men who devour

Arif  Jamal added on 26/08/21

We are the m/we.

Ann Bliss added 27/08/21

I am the m/we. We are the m/we.
lyrics added by Jonathan Chadwick on 24th September 2021

Listen to the people
Listen to the Earth
Our home, the earth
Listening to the people
Everywhere, there and here
Hearing what it tells us
And what we have to say
Calling out for truth
We are taking action
This day, our day, this day
We have to find a way
This day, our day, this day
Everywhere, there and here
Our home, the earth
Our home, the earth

Oh the power is with us
With us, with us is the power
But our earth is burning
The winds are wreaking havoc
The droughts are like a plague
Oh the power is with us
With us, with us is the power
But we have wrecked the balance
With our needless greediness
The earth must be re-made

Regenerate our earth
Reconsecrate our earth
Never too late, our earth
Our home, the earth
Our home, the earth

Ecosystem destruction
Biospheric disruption
environmental desecration
Social devastation

No good speaking truth to power
Power that’s based on lies
We are giving power to truth
In our voice and in our eyes

amendment added by Arif Jamal 25th September

the whites of our eyes

Fake leaders time is past
This is the people’s hour
Time of our lives has come
Beating time on the drum
We know how to do it
We know how to keep our world safe
Working it out from the top to the bottom
We know how to keep the world safe

Our Earth, our home

In every house n town n region
We don’t want no fossil energy
We reach out for zero emissions
We reach out for equality and justice
The earth must love its people again
And the people love the earth
Lets treat each other with respect again

From the global north to the global south
We must spread the sweetness back
All the resources that have been robbed
Must be subject to repatriation
This is the secret of regeneration

Oh mother Moon, softly shine
Over our earth and seas
Teach us your lovely sway
From dark to light
Your changing still moving time
Scintillating peace
Bring justice like the play
Of gentleness and might.

Lyric by James posted by Lucien Windrich on 24th September 

A Generation of Heroes 

Every generation 
Has its role to play
Though we are the last of them
If we can’t find our way

The people call for answers 
They ring out in dismay
Though we may be the last of them
If we don’t find a way

The call, the plea
The need for us to be
A generation of heroes 
A generation that believes 
That we… will…. find…. a way

The children find their voices
The birds rejoice to sing
And we must make our choices 
And commit everything 

To hope
To pray
To pledge
That every day
That in this hour of darkness 
We will find a way

We'll make the dark moon shine

The night is black 
The beast it prowls
Hungry for our children's future

Our eyes are white
But we can't see
The shadow of this evil creature

We live in fear
It'll bring the end
To all of life on Mother Earth

So we gather round
And close in tight
Extinguishing the burning hearth

And we sing to make the dark moon shine!
Sing to make the dark moon shine!
We sing to make the dark moon shine!
Harbinger of doom it's not your time!

The beast it wants
To fell the trees
With lies
To satiate it's greed

And forest screams
It's on its knees
Begging stop
Please, please, please!

And we sing to forest to heal its pain!
Sing to forest to heal its pain!
We sing to forest to heal our pain!
Cos we are forest, we are the same!

And this is how
We'll beat the beast
That shameless cheating joker

With mothers, sisters 
Grans and others
All bathed in bright red ochre

Singing for life
For blood 
And the sacred

Bringing laughter
And love
In place of the hatred

And we sing to make the dark moon shine!
Sing to make the dark moon shine!
We sing to make the dark moon shine!
Harbinger of doom it's not your time!

lyrics from Ingrid Lewis 30/09/21

1st melody:  e_o_e_o_e_i_e – e_o_e_o_e_i_e i
Hear the song of our Mother Earth,
Sing the song of our Mother Earth
Turning patriarchy into MWE, 
To guarantee Mother Earth’s diversity
Then sung only in vowels e_o_e_o_e_i_e – e_o_e_o_e_i_e i whilst 2nd melody is sung in words

2nd melody: i_e_i_e_e.e_i_e_i_e_e.e
She birthed it all you see
In great diversity
She is the source of big and small
She really did give birth to all
We need to grow and flourish
So let’s not drown her in our rubbish
Oh, planet Earth is our Mother
We truly do not have another
So treat her well, for life to be 
In sweet diversity
Melody 2 then sung only in vowels i_e_i_e_e.e_i_e_i_e_e.e
3rd melody:
mwe mwe mwe mwe mwe, 
oh truly mwe

1st melody
Hear the song of our Mother Earth,
Sing the song of our Mother Earth
Turning patriarchy into MWE, 
To guarantee Mother Earth’s diversity
2nd melody: 
Because of women giving birth
You and me are here on Earth
What’s done to HER is done to us
And we have clearly had enough
It was the greed of just one brother
who raped and stole from all the others

So overturn the Alpha Male
his legacy has now gone stale
We did it once when we came together
He really does now change our weather
The misery is this 
Some of us still take the piss

1st melody
If we don’t change then life on Earth is doomed
So let us change for everything to bloom
It can’t be one it’s gotta be us all 
Cause if we don’t together we will fall
Men and women will you please unite
To help in this most important fight
2nd melody
Against climate emergency
We need to end patriarchy
We are fed up with your greed
Stop taking more than you need
1st melody
Hear the song of our Mother Earth,
Sing the song of our Mother Earth
Hear the song of our Mother Earth,
Sing the song of our Mother Earth
Turning patriarchy into MWE, 
To guarantee Mother Earth’s diversity
2nd melody
For this to be we have to turn 
The you and me into a mwe 
Then sung only in vowels i_e_i_e_e.e_i_e_i_e_e.e or mwe mwe mwe mwe

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. 


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.


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 hundreds. 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


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. 


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

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

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

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. 

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


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”


by Jonathan Chadwick

online reading presented Thursday 23rd April 2020


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’

Az Theatre collaborating on My Heart is in the East

Please contact Az Theatre if you want to be invited to this reading on Friday 6th September

My Heart is in the East 

By Jessica Litwak

  1. The Project

The My Heart is in the East (MHITE) project centres around a play that deals with Moslem – Jewish relations across centuries. 

The play is a thwarted love story that reclaims the transformative power of language;  a place for poetry in the relentless face of twitter, wider social media and words that polarise, to overcome our loneliness and find out what might be the language of our hearts. Confronting the deep divisions of faith, culture and gender in unexpected ways, My Heart is in The Eastpresents possibilities of re-imagined beginnings for those who are no longer young.

In addition to the play itself we will be providing different strands of community engagement: workshops, classes, seminars, discussions. These activities will extend intercultural dialogue and creative connections across borders and communities. 

MHITE shines a light on a cultural heritage neglected by most Western narratives: La Convivencia, when Moslems and Jews were able to co-exist fruitfully for centuries. Not through rose-tinted spectacles, but by the working out of differences in religion, gender and social status through belief in the power of language and the imagination. MHITE seeks to explore a shared identity around what binds us rather than divides us – both 1000 years ago and today.

We are partnering with theatres and also multi-faith centres to bring this project to life in the UK, prior to its touring abroad. 

We see MHITE as a play with lots of potential in creative learning and community engagement.  A flexible, portable, technically savvy project going to non-traditional spaces as well as theatres. The point where international touches local.

  • The Play

My Heart is in the Eastis a 2-handed play that takes place across two time-frames: present-day New York / Iraq and Medieval Spain, where oral poetry contests contributed to communication and cultural exchange between Moslems and Jews.

In New York a Jewish American professor (Miri) receives an invitation to Basra, Iraq to lead a series of puppet building workshops. An Iraqi Muslim (Ishmael), a street poet who is employed as a mercenary gravedigger, is hired to be her translator. Their relationship is both discordant and interdependent. They travel to Beirut trying to find a way out, but can only connect when they find themselves cast into the anteroom of a large poetry contest 1,000 years earlier in Cordoba, Spain. The play uses magical realism, music, puppets to carry us through time and space. At the core of the story is a rich and complex relationship between two actors, the characters they play and the language(s) they speak.  

  • The company

Az Theatre is a UK based theatre company which focuses on: 

Performing arts inspiring activism; 

Research, development and production projects;
International and local partnerships.

Az is led by Artistic Director Jonathan Chadwick

Jonathan Meth is a Director of Az and previously an associate of the company.

Az Theatre is a Limited Company and a Registered Charity

  • What we want to do

Combine playing in recognised performance spaces with performances in multi-faith spaces.

In this way audiences from different communities can access the production as well as the public engagement work we are offering around it.

This is with a view to building a model for transnational touring, where either programmers or multi-faith spaces have expressed an interest.

We have an extensive network of international connections that we have developed.

We now want to build the prototype production for summer 2020, to test an initial incarnation in order to deliver a high-quality experience to audiences, but also to present the work to interested festival programmers, multi-faith organisations and performance venues.

  • Why this project now

We are in a time of increased Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia, cultural division and anxiety. Through history we can re-frame the present and re-shape the future. There was a time when Jews and Muslims lived together harmoniously and the Arts and Sciences flourished: Spain 1000 years ago. (Few people know that in AD 1000 Cordoba was the most populous city in the world). MHITE crosses divides to open up the possibilities of dialogue in the minds of the audience: East / West; ancient / contemporary; women / men; Muslim / Jew – with insight, wit, humour and the transformative power of language.  Cordoba thus becomes a code for creative coexistence. 

  • Public Engagement

There is a menu of offerings that the MHITE team can provide for producing or hosting venues. Among the many options are:

The Post show experience: After the scripted play ends, audiences are invited to participate in a poetry contest in the spirit of ancient Andalusia. This group effort builds community with laughter and creativity, warming the group to participate in a guided discussion about the issues in the play of art and peace. Each performance hosts a special guest panelist. 

Workshops: The creative team offer a variety of workshops. Puppets for the People (a workshop in a unique form of puppet building), Performance and Peacebuilding (a theatre and drama therapy workshop that teaches varied tools in theatre for personal and social change), Playwriting, and Conflict Transformation.

Lecture/Seminars: The team members offer lectures and seminars on the history, the poetry, and the cross-cultural communications within the play.

Through collaboration with multi-faith spaces we will consult with them as to what their communities might best engage with.

  • Target Audiences 
  • Standalone piece of theatre.
  • Also operates as generator of community engagement.
  • Jews and Moslems
  • Not simply interfaith. 
  • Other communities that may be divided.
  • Reaching across silos.
  • History of Al Andalus – an alternative version of Europe. 
  • Who we are

Jessica Litwak,(Playwright, Actor) an Internationally recognized leader in socially engaged theatre is an award-winning playwright, actress, educator and puppet builder, based in New York. She is the Artistic Director of The H.E.A.T. Collective and the founder of Artists Rise Up New York.

Fred Fortas,(Actor) a Paris-based actor born in Algeria and fluent in French, English, German and Arabic, has worked extensively in theatre, film, radio and television in England, France and around the world.

Jonathan Meth(Director) is a London-based dramaturg, producer, and lecturer, and has directed over 20 UK productions. He founded and curates – The Fence – a network for 250 playwrights and cultural operators across 50 countries. In 2013, with Steve Tiller he co- wrote, directed and produced Two Schmucks, Three Opinions, which looked at the Israel / Palestine conflict through argument, social media, biography, and audiences sharing food. 

Rosalind Parker(Creative Associate + Interfaith Liaison) is a researcher and practitioner in the area of religion and aesthetics. Her work focuses on inter-faith contexts and Muslim / non-Muslim relations. She has worked for London Jewish Museum and King’s Cultural Institutes collaboration, the Women’s Interfaith Network. She was the Artistic Director of Ulfah Arts and Media, a Muslim women’s social enterprise.

Anna Oggero (Producer/Production Manager) is a London-based performer, theatre producer, and legal consultant born in Italy. She is currently Project/Production manager at Opera Co-Pro Ltd. the innovative London born service to help opera companies co-producing operas and renting or selling recent productions, and Production Manager of the JEWish Cabaret Theatre Company.

A person posing for the camera

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Lazhar Ghozlane(musician) – Paris-based oud player with l’Ensemble Alhambra, to provide live musical accompaniment.


  • Future Plans

Our initial aim is to produce MHITE in the UK, to which we will invite interested international programmers from venues, festivals and multi-faith spaces.

For example, Thomas Engel has offered to host a reading/presentation at the German ITI headquarters in Berlin, where they have a small theatre space and to invite programmers from eg Gorki Theatre and other theatres in Berlin. At the same time we will look to link up with The House of One, Berlin’s dedicated multi-faith space.

In addition to Berlin, building on existing connections, we are exploring potential interest in: Brussels, Prague, Lille, Stockholm, Amsterdam /Rotterdam, Washington DC, Haifa.

  1. Work have we done so far

An early version of the script was given a staged reading at Graeae’s space in 2015, (with actor Philip Arditti) with an invited audience of 35. Following feedback the script was reworked and Fred Fortas was brought on board. The intention was always to involve a Muslim actor. We worked with Philip as an initial vehicle for text exploration because he is London-based and known to the director as both an excellent performer, and an actor who would ask searching questions of the material.

With the main creatives living in New York, Paris and London we have developed the work when our schedules permitted, taking a consciously slow approach. 

August 2016 two-day workshop on My Heart is in The East with Jessica Litwak and Fred Fortas in London to explore not just the play but the whole project.

August 2017 two-day R&D laboratory on My Heart is in The East with Jessica Litwak and Fred Fortas at Bazar Café, La Charité sur Loire.

June 2018 four-day R&D laboratory on My Heart is in The East with Jessica Litwak, Fred Fortas & Rosie Parker at Bazar Café, La Charité-sur-Loire.

The development of the play has been supported by LaMama in New York and Bazar Café in La Charité-sur-Loire

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.


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

After the war: remembering a year ago 07/07/2015

Az Theatre and Theatre for Everybody are presenting Simultaneous – War & Peace – Gaza/London at Rich Mix on Sunday 13th September 2015 at 4pm.

We are showing a video of Theatre for Everybody’s workshop production of a stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War & Peace.  At the same time there will be a live presentation of the very same work in Gaza.  Then we will link up the two audiences via Skype live between Gaza and London.

Don’t miss this wonderful adventure in international cultural exchange!


Above is a photograph of Hossam Madhoun in the role of Pierre Besukhov from Theatre fro Everybody’s production.

Book your tickets now via Rich Mix Box Office or call 0207 613 7498.

During the lead-up to this event we are asking people to ‘revisit’ the messages that Hossam Madhoun sent us during the ‘war’ on Gaza.  Operation Protective Edge was launched by the Israelis on 7th July 2014.

And we are asking Hossam to comment now as he looks back at what he wrote last year.

Here is his message on 3rd July last year: Unable to be wise.

Here is his message on 6th July last year: Zero Opportunity.

Here is his message on 8th July last year: Good Morning

I asked Hossam in a recent telephone conversation how he felt now about the events a year ago.  His response was to send the piece below and then his friend Basel al Maqousee (find out about Basel’s work here) read this and sent us this piece of digital art, a homage to Gaza and Picasso:

after war









Here is Hossam’s recent writing about the aftermath of the war a year later:

And here we are..
One year after the war..
Here we are we still alive after the war
We’re still eating and sleeping
We’re still going to work, watching TV,
Going out with friends who are still alive,
Visiting family members who survived,
Walking in the streets that don’t look like themselves any more
Meeting people who are not themselves any more
No one stays the same,
After the war
Mohammad celebrates his daughter’s birthday in the rubble of his house
which was bombed in the war,
Remembering a wife and a son,
A wall and a door,
A bed and calm evenings,
And memories that went with the war
Samira, the 7 year old trying to catch her doll, but she doesn’t find her
It went with the war
Ali’s mother still prepares food for six people,
Her husband is unable to convince her that three of her sons went with
the war,
She still believes that they will come back, and when they come back,
they will come back hungry…
One year after the war and we still go to the Cafe and play cards,
Drinking our coffee without sugar,
Smoking our hubbly bubbly,
Showing our latest selfies on our Facebook pages,
But our photos are not the same as one year ago,
Our photos are not the same as before the war,
Darkness fell over our photos despite the flashlight
Nothing remains the same after the war
And there are different kinds of wars, my friend
There is war from the sky, from the land, from the sea,
In the war from the sky, bombardment comes from everywhere; you
cannot predict when and where it will strike, so you cannot hide, and
you stay still
Waiting for death with a strange involuntary smile on your face
In the war from land, you also don’t know when and where the shells will
So again you cannot hide, and you stay still
Waiting for death with a strange involuntary smile on your face
Wars are a very strange thing, difficult to describe, my friend,
War ends and you believe you survived, but after a while you realize that
the war is still going on within you, chasing you in your dreams, in the
destructions around you, in the funerals and the sad faces in the streets
and the markets,
In the sorrow of those who lost their beloved relatives
Wars do not end or leave simply,
Suddenly your 11 years old child wets their bed, and your wife has
You too, but you don’t admit it!
Your clever daughter is getting very low marks at school and she
doesn’t know why,
Suddenly your kind and nice neighbor doesn’t stop yelling and shouting
at his wife and kids
Day and night and no one can stop him,
Your eldest son wakes up in panic with any strange sound
A knock at the door, a cup falls and breaks, a fast car’s wheels scream
in the street
After war, nothing remains the same.
Before war, there were no people living in a half-destroyed homes or
sheltering in schools,
Before war there were no children or women looking for something to
eat in the garbage
Before war there weren’t thousands of beggars of all ages, children,
youth, women, men,
Before war there weren’t 50.000 people without homes
Before war there weren’t 800,000 children suffering from fear,
nightmares, bed-wetting, sleep disturbance, anxiety,
Before war…
Before war …
Before war…
And after the war????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks, Hossam.





Back to GO! 16/02/2015

I promised I would keep you updated by writing a blog of my trip to Palestine.

I went to Palestine on Saturday 7th February and came back on Sunday 15th February.  I failed to get into Gaza to pursue the work on War and Peace.

Caryl Churchill and I worked on her recent play, Love and Information, at Ashtar Theatre.   The British Council accommodated us.  The Royal Court Theatre provided finance for the translation.  We paid for the travel and did the work for free.  It was our contribution, like planting a play in Palestine!

I was also asked by British Actors Equity Association to approach theatre artists and performers to get them to provide an overview of performing arts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories so that Equity can provide support and solidarity for fellow workers there.  I had good conversations and this will have successful outcomes!

I didn’t take a laptop and I was unable to get into the back-end of this blog because I didn’t have the address/URL.

What do you need to know?

The actors in the workshop on ‘Love and Information’ were wonderful, imaginative, inventive.  We all fell in love with each other.  There were all sorts of inspiring and intriguing problems working on a play with over 50 scenes, with no repetition of characters, with no indication of location nor attribution of speech.  There’s too much to say.

Caryl and I worked from the Sunday evening after our arrival until the Thursday evening when there was a presentation.

During the week we visited Bethlehem and were introduced to the wonderful work of Al Harah Theatre company.  They have started a wonderful new course for design, technical and production.

After the presentation we visited the old city in Jerusalem and the following day we visited a theatre company, Al Rowwad, and a school, Hope Flowers School, in Bethlehem.  Then we visited the old town of Bethlehem and saw where the baby Jesus was born.  During the trip I was able to stay with my friends who had lived with us in London when their son was a one year old.  I remember his first birthday.  Now he is 14.

Yes, we had a wonderful time and it wasn’t even spoiled one jot on our way back by the security at the airport keeping us for two hours and thoroughly searching our bodies and all our belongings and asking us lots of questions.

It was on the second day that Iman Aoun, the director of Ashtar Theatre finally got through to the Palestinian Authority minister that the Palestinian Mission in London had recommended we contact about access to Gaza.  They referred me back to the British Embassy and /or humanitarian aid organisations.

This time impossible, round in circles, back to GO.

So, although other foreign nationals can travel to Gaza – I heard about Portuguese and Italian arts practitioners getting access – the UK government remains complicit in the Israeli-imposed blockade and accepts the Israeli conception of humanitarian aid.

Of course anybody who knows anything will tell you that it’s impossible to get into Gaza but they always know an exception to the rule.  A friend there told me that obtaining a Press Card could secure access!  I will keep trying.

What happened to me while I was in Palestine?

I became more and more convinced that genocide is being committed there.  I learned before I went, through the work of Daniel Feierstein that genocide is a social process that seeks to destroy the identity of the oppressed people and replace this identity with that of the oppressor.  In this he cites the work of Raphael Lemkin, the man who first used the word.

Lemkin said: “Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and the colonization by the oppressor’s own nationals.”

Questions about international justice cluster around the issue of genocide and definitions  about the social practices involved are matters of debate and definition.  I’m not an expert nor a lawyer.  I am seeking some way of expressing what I witnessed.

How can we explain the transposition of the kind of ‘patterns’ Lemkin refers to? What are the consequences of the genocide carried out by the National Socialist regime in Germany between 1933 and 1945?  I am not alone in making the observation that the Zionism of the Israeli state mimics the ‘oppressor’ pattern.

What does this mean for the future of Palestinian society?

Daniel Feierstein points out that genocides go through certain distinct stages.  He says that understanding this can help us to stop these processes.

On our first morning before we started work on ‘Love and Information’ we were taken by Medical Aid for Palestinians to look at the work of a mobile medical unit working in a village near Jericho in the Jordan Valley.  The people in the village were Bedouin, nomadic people, herders of sheep and goat.  They are being systematically attacked through the ‘social reorganisation’ strategies of the Israelis.  Read more. Please look at the plans for E1 and the development of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement that would effectively cut the West Bank in half.  Read what Harriet Sherwood wrote in The Guardian two and a quarter years ago.

There is Zone A and Zone B and Zone C and Gaza and refugee camps in Jordan and Syria and Lebanon. There are people with Jerusalem IDs, those that are married to them who have only have Zone A IDs, those who have life partners who work with international organisations who have this kind of ID or number plates on their car who can travel on this road and those who can’t. And so on and on and on.

The man who gave a speech welcoming Pope Benedict to Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem in 2014, referred to apartheid and indicated the evidence of the illegal ‘separation’ wall towering over them. He had his Jerusalem ID/permit withdrawn by the Israelis for his straight-speaking. His wife and five children visit him only at weekends.

This is the phase of dividing up the oppressed.

Resistance is happening in myriad ways in all aspects of Palestinian society.  Please look at the work of Al Rowwad.  I cannot find a good way to describe how inspired I was by meeting Abdelfattah Abusrour, the Director of Al Rowwad.

I want to go back to the Palestine to help young theatre-makers create organisations similar to Al Rowwad.  I committed myself to doing so in response to a request from young theatre artists, one of whom came from Qalqilya.

Another thing happened while I was in Palestine.

I became even more convinced that BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement – please look at their website – is a crucially important element in the resistance.

It was good to have the Artists for Palestine UK pledge announced while we were there.  More than 700 artists signed the initial pledge.  Hundreds more have joined them since.

I’m keeping this as short as possible.  The visit had a big impact on me.  Please get back to me at with any comments.  I’ll keep you updated with progress.






Blogging my trip to Palestine 03/02/2015

Jonathan Chadwick’s trip to Palestine in February 2015

Blog entry One

So this is the situation.  I’ll try to keep you posted about my trip to Palestine.

The aim was to visit my colleagues in Gaza in order to pursue our project to create an original new Arabic stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace in Gaza.  Now it looks quite unlikely that I will get permission from the Israelis.  But I will still be going to the West Bank.

We’ve been planning our War and Peace project for some time.  We thought it would be relatively easy to get in and out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing via Egypt but after the army take-over in Egypt this is now impossible.

Theatre for Everybody in Gaza have produced a good Arabic translation of a stage adaptation that was produced in the 1950 in Germany.  We have presented two events as benefits to finance the work.  Both events were at Rich Mix.  One in September and the other in January.  At both these events there were readings of stage adaptations of Tolstoy’s works and skype conversations with our colleagues in Gaza.

The work in Gaza has been held up by the recent ‘war’ and the subsequent ‘peace’.  The situation there is dreadful.  We thought that if I visited Gaza and worked with Theatre for Everybody it would get things moving and it would help to break down the isolation they feel.

I was advised that there might be a way of securing permission to go to Gaza by meeting people in the Palestinian government in Ramallah so when Caryl Churchill said she would like to go to Palestine because she’d never been, I suggested to Ashtar Theatre that we go together and we could do a workshop on her recent play Love and Information.

We are going to the West Bank on Saturday 7th February and we will be welcomed and accommodated by the British Council and we are really looking forward to meeting friends old and new there and doing the work on this exciting and challenging play.  The British Council will not help with the trip to Gaza.  A trip there would be against UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidelines.

At first, I tried to gain permission to cross through Eres to Gaza by asking Theatre Day, a children’s company that operates in Gaza that is registered with the Israeli authorities and managed to get Steve Tiller into Gaza last year, if they could facilitate this.  They couldn’t help me.

I have subsequently asked the PLO mission in London and they have indicated they will do what they can to give me the necessary contacts in Ramallah to make contact with the Israeli authorities.  Their Cultural Attache responded helpfully.

I researched how permissions are granted by the Israelis and I have been in contact with the International Relations Department of the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs.  I was pointed in their direction by an official of the Israeli Co-ordination and Liaison Administration to the Gaza Strip.  The CLAGaza have an online application procedure for people wanting to cross through Eres.  For this it is necessary to have an IVA number which you obtain on the registration of the applicant organisation by the aforementioned Department.  I have seen the Department’s Information letter relating to the application for registration and as far as possible I have supplied Renee Techelet, Director of the International Relations Department, all the required documentation about Az Theatre and my own passport details.

I have been told in a telephone conversation with an official, acting under instruction from Ms Techelet, that at the current time there were 12 other organisations applying for registration and that the usual waiting time was between 6 months and 9 months.  Also since there are about to be elections in Israel these registration processes were likely to take even longer because in this interim period there was no decisive ministerial brief to guide policy.  He advised me to get back in touch in April and to be prepared for a nine month wait while the relevant security inquiries were made about Az Theatre’s status as an international humanitarian organisation.

There is still a slim chance that I will be able to get permission through some contact the Palestinian government may have with the Israeli authorities.  I will keep trying.

So that’s about it.

Oh yes, as well as all this I have been asked by British Actors Equity Association to make contact with performing artists in Palestine because they are interested in supporting their fellow workers there.  I’m really pleased to do this.  I think it is a really great initiative.

I think it will be an interesting trip. I am going to write a progress report every two days.

Why am I going to China

Here is the statement of intent that I have written in order to tell people why I am going to China for a three week trip.

“I will arrive in Kunming on Friday 25th October 2013 and stay with friends and visit the surrounding region for 5-7 days and then journey north visiting Shanghai and Xi’an to Beijing visiting places on the way. I haven’t confirmed the exact itinerary.  I will return to London on 17t November 2013.

I want to find out what is happening in China by making contact with theatre practitioners.  The main centres of theatre production may be Beijing and Shanghai but I also want to engage with theatre outside these main centres.

I am particularly interested in learning about the impact of the extraordinarily rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, taking place in China, on forms of theatre and performance.

I want to see, if possible, how traditional forms of performance are responding to the social and economic changes that are taking place.  Also I want to see how experimental forms are responding to these same processes.  In this way I hope to be able to look at these changes through the perspective of theatre practice.

I have had a long-term interest in Chinese philosophy and have tried to know as much as I can about the Chinese history but I am expert in neither topic.

As well as having depth of experience in directing and creating theatre in many different contexts both in the UK and internationally, I have directed theatre companies and founded arts organisations.  If you want to read more about my work go to:

I have deep experience of training actors in drama academies and have made a special training programme around the work of Motokiyo Zeami ( I currently teach MA students at the London Film School.

More recently I have undertaken a Masters of Science in Ecological Economics at University of Leeds.  Az Theatre, I am developing a project about social and environmental change called mappa mundi.  This involves mapping change through drama videos.