Emigrants project description

Proposal for a theatre production – Theatre for Everybody

The Emigrants by Stanislaw Mrozek in a special Gaza adaptation. 

Introduction:

The siege 

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

Unemployment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The project: 

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

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

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

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

The play:

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

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

Theatre for Everybody Group

Origins

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

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

What we are?

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

Productions: 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Other activities:

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

1997 – 2005
Drama trainings and workshops for children and youth

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

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

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

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

The Team:

The Director: 

Naem Naser 

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

Founder of Masafat theatre group 

Participated as an actor in 27 theatre productions 

Director of more than 30 theatre play for adults and children 

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

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

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

Naem the founder of Arab Music national band in Gaza 

The Actors: 

Jamal Al-Rozzi 

More than 30 years’ theatre actor, trainer and director

Participated in more than 30 theatre productions for adults and children

Participated in developing theatre texts through improvisation 

Trainer of acting skills 

Drama therapist 

Theatre production manager 

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

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

Participated in Art for promoting social change conference with Exeter University 

Beside his involvement in theatre:

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

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

Hossam Almadhoun 

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

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

Trainer of acting skills 

Drama therapy specialist 

Theatre production manager 

Translator of 7 theatre plays from English to Arabic

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

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

Participated in Art for promoting social change conference with Exeter University  

Beside his involvement in theatre:

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

Trainer in child protection and ‘child protection in emergency’ 

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

A member of the child protection networks in Gaza Strip 

Member of ‘child protection in emergency’ platform

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

The writer: 

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