Gaza Opening Signs Celebration event was great!!

Gaza: Opening Signs Celebration Event was held on Wednesday 27th March at 4.30pm at College Park School, Garway Road, Westminster, London. About 50 people turned up; supporters, friends, teachers, parents, families and students.

The key facilitators of the event were Caroline Moore and Ciara Brennan:



Caroline, a visual artist working in video, and Ciara, a theatre practitioner, had worked with year 10 at the school since September 2012 on the exchange programme with young people, working with Theatre for Everybody, at the Deir El Balah Rehabilitation Centre in Gaza.  The group in London are young people with learning difficulties and those in Gaza are a mixture of the deaf and the hearing.

The celebration was introduced by Sue Latham, the drama teacher who worked alongside Caroline and Ciara at College Park School.



They were joined in the work by David Sands who is a deaf theatre practitioner who uses a visual vernacular signing language.  You can see David at work in this short video made at the launch of the Gaza Opening Signs project at The London Globe Theatre Studios in September 2012.

The celebration event had a quiz on Gaza presented by Year 10 students.



The audience really liked this!



The videos made by Year 10 students as their ‘gifts’ to the young people in Gaza were shown.


As also was the video made by Caroline and Ciara to show our friends in Gaza about life in London.

There was a reading by David Calder and Ciara Brennan of a series messages in the form of a ‘war journal’ written by Hossam Madhoun, Co-director of Theatre for Everybody, during the attack on Gaza by Israeli armed forces in November 2011.



The audience were fully engaged.





Hossam Madhoun can be seen on video talking about the Gaza Opening Signs project.  Take a look.

The Gaza Opening Signs project involved Jamal Al Rozzi and Hossam training in signing for the deaf and running a training programme for young theatre workshop facilitators some of whom were deaf.  Here is a video from Gaza of one of the young trainees telling us about why she wanted to do drama.  See the video.

The highlight of the event was the showing of the video sent to us by our friends in Gaza.


This shows the wonderful work they are doing with young people there. Please click here to see the video and when you get to the video put the word ‘gaza’ as the password into the box marked access.

One of the College Park teaching staff wrote:

“It was an amazing evening! It really gave a different perspective to the school, very international and very moving. It had a real community feel to it. I must say the year ten’s signing piece to poetry was beautiful.”

And as Hossam wrote later:

“It was lovely chance for me to share something from Gaza!”

The Gaza Opening Signs work with young people at Deir El Balah is continuing until the beginning of May.  Hossam reports:

“As I mentioned during the event, the children are fully involved and find a great space of free expression. The violence and aggressive attitude is much controlled, the teamwork is going very well among them. The next phase we will concentrate on is self- expression, stories, dreams, hopes and fears and we will use the acting scenes as a tool to reflect them. The group of the children is very big and this is another challenge (26 boys and girls) but still we are able to work with them.”

We expressed our gratitude to the British Shalom Salaam Trust, the International Performers Aid Trust and the Street Theatre Workshop Fund as well as the 50 individuals who have made financial contributions to make this work possible.

Thank you and please stay in touch with Gaza Drama Long Term by emailing us on visiting our web site

The next stage in our ten-year collaboration with Theatre for Everybody will be a production of an original Arabic adaptation for the stage of Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace.  Interested?  Let us know!

We are also committed to facilitating the continuing contact between College Park School Westminster, London and Deir El Balah Rehabilitation Centre in Gaza!

Thank you.




Take a journey with me

The group wrote this poem during the first session back after half term. Over the next four weeks they will use it to create a piece of visual vernacular with the deaf actor, David Sands. We will film their devised ‘vernacular’ each week and use it to create a performance based film which will be shared with the young people in Gaza.


I fly, I whoosh, I breeze

Take a journey with me


It starts at Paddington Station

in the crowded carriage full of men in suits and women in make up

We go through the tunnels, whizzing past houses and gardens

Past bikes and boats and buses.


I fly, I whoosh, I breeze

Take a journey with me


Like a bird I flutter through the smokey air

Through green parks and never-ending office blocks

From above I watch people like ants going bowling or ice skating.


I fly, I whoosh, I breeze

Take a journey with me


As free as the wind I race through Piccadilly

I scare the pigeons and tickle people’s heads

I dream of taking a dandelion flower to the top of the London Eye

Watching it dance in the breeze.


I fly, I whoosh, I breeze

Take a journey with me


During our last session before the half term holidays, we began to explore through films and photographs what Gaza was like? who lived there? and what they did for fun?

When preparing for the session I watched ‘THE GAZA BREATHING SPACE FILM‘ again, looking for parts of the film that would appeal to and be accessible for our group. Although they were few and far between, I though the small number of clips I had selected would help the young people understand a little more about the situation in Gaza.

Initially I thought this would be an exciting and thought provoking session for the young people, but very quickly it became obvious that Gaza was a very difficult concept to understand or even explain in an appropriate manner.

What is Gaza like? Why can’t the people who live there go on holiday? Why can’t the people just go through the tunnels to Egypt? Why did Israel do that?

How do we answer these questions? How do we make the answers understandable? and what can we do to continue our groups passion and thirst for knowledge about Gaza?

A drop in the ocean is making waves

The Gaza Opening Signs project which is the current phase of the Gaza Drama Long Term project, a collaborative partnership between Az Theatre in London and Theatre for Everybody in Gaza is well underway and is involving more and more people as it moves forward.

Facing the situation of deliberate mass civilian punishment and a strategic underdevelopment that amounts to a quasi-genocidal operation by the Israeli state with the compliance and collusion of the so-called international community, the people of Gaza need more than a drop in the ocean.

That’s the way I would describe our project, just a drop in the ocean.

All the work in the UK is voluntary.  We have a team of three people working on the project, two of our team, Ciara Brennan and Caroline Moore are working directly with the wonderful drama teacher and nine young people at College Park School London.  They are calling in movement expertise from Sissy Likou and theatre signing skills from David Sands.  The young people are getting a quality input and the project is impacting on the school community which includes other staff and parents.  You can read about the progress of this work on this blog by going to the Gaza Opening Signs at College Park School strand.

We need to raise another £1000 to reach our fund-raising target.  This will enable us to follow up the money we have sent to Gaza for the training process.  This training consists of two phases.  One, is the training of Theatre for Everybody directors, Jamal Al Rozzi and Hossam Madhoun in signing for the deaf.  Two, is the training of a group of four young practitioners, two of whom are deaf, in drama workshop facilitation.

Listen to what Theatre for Everybody director, Hossam Madhoun, has to say about our project:

These are the trainee drama workshop leaders in Gaza:

Trainee Drama Workshop leaders in Gaza

Here they are in action during one of the training sessions run by Theatre for Everybody:

Gaza Opening Signs trainees in action

The next stage in Gaza will be the workshop programme with a group of young people from Deir Al Balah.  This will be a very special group because some of them will be deaf and some of them won’t.  We are accomplishing our aim of working across disabilities and across frontiers.  Working for good communication, breaking down barriers and creating an exchange between the project there in Gaza and the project here in London.

The other member of the London team, Jenny Bakst, amongst the other things she has done for the project, was responsible for producing the successful project launch event at the Sackler Studios at The Globe Theatre in London on Saturday 22nd September.  Watch the short video describing this event.

The issue of deafness and disability is of real and symbolic importance.  As Theatre for Everybody director, Jamal Al Rozzi says in our GAZA BREATHING SPACE FILM, for the deaf in Gaza it is like suffering an internal siege.  Engaging with abilities and disabilities, moving beyond frontiers, drawing people into knowing the consequences of political positions, using creativity as a means both of communication and of self realisation, our project is a drop in the ocean which is making waves….and signs!

True or False….

True or False?….Gaza is the most crowded place anywhere in the world? TRUE…There are 3577 people living in each square Kilometre.

 An interesting and distressing fact, but its difficult to imagine what this might mean for the people of Gaza…

“You three, stand behind that table, the rest of you enjoy the room. Use the space as you wish. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Get BACK behind that table. You are NOT allowed out.”

How did it make you feel to be trapped in this small space?





True or False?…Since 1948, 71,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to move from their homes.

TRUE…The Israeli Defence Force regularly destroy buildings. They claim this is a deterrent against terrorism. House demolitions are also carried out when buildings do not comply with Israeli set building regulations.

“Every one put your desks back. Adam, not you. You can’t have a desk there any longer. No you can’t sit with Hackmat. I don’t care where you go. NO. NOT THERE…”

How did it make you feel to not have somewhere to sit?

“Confused, discombobulated”


At the moment our group at College Park feel as if they are a very long way away from the young people in Gaza. The situation there is a very difficult concept to grasp, especially for a group of London school children.  Creating experiences through drama about the issues that young people may face in Gaza, may have made the situation easier to comprehend. Perhaps the group at College Park felt like they had slipped one toe into a shoe belonging to someone in Gaza?

At the end of the session we discussed the future of the project with the group. “In December what would you like to have learnt to do with your hands, what knowledge would you like to have in your heads and how would you like to feel in your hearts?” Resolutely, the answer was…“We want to hear from the young people in Gaza”

Head, Heart, Hands – a reflection

This week we reflected on the previous four sessions to explore what we had learnt to do with our hands, knowledge we now had in our heads and how this made us feel in our hearts.

The group used words such as: confident, sorrow, happy, strong, sad, rich, poor, freedom, excited, camera, can’t leave, feel, stories, sharing, helping, filming, acting, looking, movement.

It was clear from this reflection that the group have begun to think about the parallels that there are between young people in Gaza and young people in London, suggesting that they are beginning to take ownership in the project.

Next week we will explore what they would like to have learnt to do with their hands, what knowledge they would like to have in their heads and how they would like to feel in their hearts at the end of the second half of term.

An exploration of space through a narrative performance

The third workshop at College Park saw the group taking full ownership of the project. During their morning drama class the group had developed a drama piece focused on a central character, ‘Mr Lazy’, a new caretaker at College park who is constantly falling asleep in strange places around the school. During the afternoon workshop they performed this piece under the direction of a camera woman and an actor/come director. Collectively they explored possible camera angles and mastered the challenging concept of multiple takes so that a visually stimulating film could be cut together.

On a simple level this was a narrative based exploration of the schools facilities, which through the use of film allowed the group to view places from different perspectives; on a more complex level it was a portrayal of what is and what is not expectable in a school environment, and aportrayal of what we consider to be socially expectable.

We wait in anticipation for the second instalment of the saga to see why Mr Lazy just can not keep his eyes open…

Click on this link to see the film Mr Meshnoum.


Mr Meshnoum