Playback in Palestine

Benjamin Rivers's picture

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The Freedom Theatre in occupied Palestine is currently developing an ongoing Playback Theatre initiative. The project involves the formation of several troupes and will include 18 months of training and rehearsals together with numerous performances and workshops throughout the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The Playback Theatre* project began last week with a 4-day intensive workshop/audition attended by 11 young adults from Jenin Refugee Camp, Jenin City and surrounding villages.

There was a hunger to tell. The people of Jenin have suffered enormously under the Israeli occupation, and yet for most, it is unbearable to hear again and again the memories of pain and loss. And so the stories lie buried. Caught inside. When the story remains untold, or when the story is told but no one listens, the person moves from bitterness and resentment towards a deep sense of alienation and apathy. No one speaks and no one listens. But the hunger remains. At some level the desire to tell and the desire to be heard cannot be extinguished. This yearning to communicate, to make meaning of life and to have our story recognized and acknowledged, is a non-negotiable feature of our humanness.

During the 4-day workshop many stories were told. Stories of love, struggle, desire and resistance. However, the telling took place within a unique context. Stories were shared within the protected space, and bounded ritual of theatre. Each story was listened to by a team of actors and musicians who then transformed the teller’s narrative into the language of sound, movement, music, poetry and text. In Playback Theatre, every enactment is completely improvised – a collaborative and artistic response based on the actors ability to empathize and reflect the essential structure and meaning of the tellers experience. The youth in this workshop rose to the challenge with a grace of spirit and a compassionate artistry that was moving – beyond words…


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