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 email@example.com visiting our web site www.aztheatre.org.uk
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!