Gaza Drama introduction

An introduction to GAZA DRAMA and early work on the project

see here for more recent work on GAZA DRAMA

 


Gaza Drama Long Term

Drama for young people's well-being in Gaza - a ten year project (2009-2019)

Developing an international dialogue about the use of theatre and the impact of violence on future generations

A partnership with Theatre For Everybody, Gaza, Palestine.

Aims

The project is aimed at improving the lives of young people and children in Gaza. It seeks to widen horizons by increasing communication between people in Gaza and people elsewhere, specifically by promoting understanding and sharing experiences and knowledge with other communities who have undergone conflict. Thereby it aims to help rebuild shattered lives, and to cultivate resilience, wisdom and healing.

 

Who is Theatre for Everybody?

Theatre For Everybody started their work in 1987 during the first Intifada. From that day to this they have kept up a continuous theatre presence in Gaza and have performed internationally mainly through a partnership with the Belgian Company Theatre du Libre. They have given thousands of performances in schools and community centres and in public spaces in Gaza of contemporary world classics by Brecht, Ionesco, Beckett and other writers. They have devised and written their own work and have constantly sought to extend their talents and capabilities. They have trained in Forum Theatre techniques and use them in their work. They received some training in drama therapy and since the second Intifada have carried out drama work with young people in collaboration with the community mental health organisations in Gaza. Since 2002 they have been in partnership with Az Theatre on the War Stories project. Gaza Drama Long Term is a ten-year partnership between these two companies to develop their work with young people and raise a dialogue about the intergenerational impact of violence. Theatre for Everybody is directed by Jamal Al Rozzi and Hossam Madhoun.

This is what they say about their work:

"We are theatre makers and we want to take part in society through art. We believe in theatre as artistic production as well as a way to raise awareness of the main problems in society. We believe that through plays, we can contribute to changing attitudes, to shaking preconceived ideas or at least to bring out the problems (social, psychological...)."

"Through entertainment, through shows, we don't lecture people, we just stimulate them, we question them about themselves, about their beliefs, their behaviours. Our theatre is committed with life but not directly political: we don't deliver messages."


The project 2010-11

 

Over the next year from May 2010 to May 2011 we plan to:

  • Support an 8 week programme of drama work with young people in Gaza in January-March 2011. This work will be aimed at young people's well-being and will be carried out by Theatre for Everybody in conjunction with community mental health organisations in Gaza. We plan to increase Theatre for Everybody's capacity to carry out such programmes of work by training new practitioners and connecting up their work with drama therapists here in the UK.
  • Facilitate a collaboration between Theatre for Everybody and Soho Theatre to deliver an exchange of plays between 11 year olds in London and Gaza culminating in performances of plays from 11 year olds in both cities in July 2012. The preparation for this work will start with a project in Gaza schools from January-July 2011.
  • Produce performances in the UK that will raise awareness and resources for the work in Gaza. The first of these presentations will be at Soho Theatre on Saturday 12th June where we will be presenting a programme to support Theatre for Everybody's production of Guernica by Arrabal. It will include readings of extracts from the play and scenes of life in Gaza sent to us by Theatre for Everybody.
  • Produce a film about Theatre for Everybody's work with young people in Gaza that will explore how life is for children and their families and show the impact of the drama work.


In order to carry out this work we will organise for a 5 person team to visit Gaza in December 2010. During this trip we will make an input into the preparations for the drama work and the playwriting exchange as well as shooting the film.

 

Fundraising 2010-11

In order to achieve our plans for 2010-11 we need to raise funds.

We would like individuals to make donations and to help us by advising us of likely sources of money. Please let us have your ideas about this. (Email anna@aztheatre.org.uk)

  • We need £8700 for the programme of drama work with young people. We are looking around for institutional support for this work but it would be good to have contributions from individuals and smaller organisations. If you or any organisation that you have contact with people who want to sponsor or co-sponsor a young person attending this drama work we reckon the cost will be £400 for each young person. We would, of course, acknowledge this contribution as a sponsor in all our documents.
  • We need to raise £18400 for the work in Gaza Schools next year preparing for the play exchange in 2012. This includes sessions in 5 Gaza schools and there will be 150 young participants, it will culminate in a showcase of work where selected plays will be performed by Theatre for Everybody actors. In conjunction with Soho Theatre we are working to find funds from institutional sources for this work.
  • We need to raise £9200 to make a film about the work. This will include the costs of filming in Gaza. Maysoon Pachachi, prize-winning film maker, has agreed to make this film with us. We are looking for special sponsorship for this.
  • We are planning to run events that will be specifically aimed at funding different aspects of the work. The event at Soho Theatre on Saturday 12th June will be focused on raising money for Theatre for Everybody's production of Guernica.

 

Gaza Drama Video Link

Az Theatre – Theatre For Everybody

Az Theatre has a partnership with Theatre For Everybody a company based in Gaza Palestine.  Over the past two years we haven’t managed to get into Gaza and they can’t get out.  We have been inventing creative ways of working together ‘at a distance’.

First we collaborated on a series of drama therapy sessions for young people there.  Theatre for Everybody carried out the work and we backed and supported the work from London.  This was a part of our War Stories:Alcestis project (2006).

In 2007 we decided to go ahead with an event at Soho Theatre which they were to attend but couldn’t because of the closure of the borders there.  We did readings about their work and held a public telephone call with them.

Now we are planning Gaza Drama – the Video Link!  Collaborating with the British Council in London and Gaza and using their video-conferencing facilities we are planning a video-linked creative session and presentation.

How will it work?

Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al-Rozzi from Theatre for Everybody, Palestinian Occupied Territories are sending sketches about life in Gaza. A group of actors in London will work to improvise scenes from these sketched scenarios.  

We are using actors as a creative conduit for the experiences of the people in Gaza.  Can we imagine and act here what is going on there?

The scenes will be redirected by Hossam and Jamal and other members of the company in Gaza through the video link. 

The scenes will then be presented in front of small invited audiences in Gaza and London. A dialogue between the two audiences will then take place about events there and here.

A video recording will be made of this work.  You can read about the last Gaza Drama event at Soho Theatre at www.aztheatre.org.uk click on War Stories project.

If this works we plan to do it for a larger audience.

We are looking for support for this theatre arts project with its inventive use of information technology.

This work has been made possible by financial donations from Friends of In Place of War, the International Committee for Artists Freedom and individuals.

If you want to be in the email group for this project and keep updated about its progress email Az.

Please contact Jonathan Chadwick at Az Theatre info@aztheatre.org.uk

Brief Description
of Gaza Drama - Long Term

Drama for young people's well-being in Gaza - a ten year project (2009-2019)

Developing an international dialogue about the use of theatre and the impact of violence on future generations

Aims:

  • To support, and work with, Theatre For Everybody in Gaza, Palestine in the development of a programme of drama work with young people aimed at enhancing their wellbeing.
  • To improve access to relevant drama skills and training for Gazans.
  • To create mutual access and exchange between this work and work in other relevant contexts.
  • To cultivate and enhance knowledge about the long-term impact of organised violence across generations.
  • To create awareness and communication about the adaptable use of theatre and drama skills
  • To achieve this Gaza Drama Long Term will:
  • Be based on a partnership with Theatre for Everybody in Gaza
  • Set up and manage a fund to finance this project
  • Organise and develop a support and guidance group and a support network
  • Present a programme of activities in the UK and elsewhere aimed at sharing the stories and experiences of people in Gaza who come into contact with the project
  • Ensure clear and full communications between all the people involved and good documentation of the work
  • Organise access to relevant training and exchanges of skills
  • Offer a platform for those involved in the work and those interested in it to exchange information and ideas.
  • Work with other interested and relevant local and international organisations in promoting and developing the work thus securing a network of partnerships.
  • Organise an international conference in Gaza in 2014 to create access to the insights and benefits gained in the course of the work and share perspectives with other practices in other contexts.


Principles:

The project is aimed at improving the lives of young people and children in Gaza. It aims to do at the same time as raising awareness of the use of drama and theatre skills. It seeks to widen horizons by increasing communication between people in Gaza and people elsewhere, specifically by promoting understanding and sharing experiences and knowledge with other communities who have undergone conflict and by raising awareness of the impact of violence on succeeding generations. Thereby it aims to help rebuild shattered lives, and to cultivate resilience, wisdom and healing.

Organisation

The project has been initiated by Jonathan Chadwick of Az Theatre in conversation with Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al Rozzi of Theatre for Everybody.

It will be administered by Az Theatre Limited, a UK registered Charity (No. 1112922)

Initial support has come from International Committee for Artists Freedom, Friends of In Place of War and friends of Az Theatre.

The Support and Guidance Group is Jonathan Chadwick, Jenny Hughes and Jennie Stoller.


July 2009 visit to London - reports on the meetings that Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al Rozzi were unable to attend because they could not get out of Gaza

Report on the meeting held on Wednesday 15 July 2009 at the Sesame Institute, Christchurch 27 Blackfriars Road London SE1

This was the meeting at which Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al Rozzi from Theatre for Everybody in Gaza were supposed to be present.

It was hosted by Becky Mackeonis and those present were Jonathan Chadwick and Maysoon Pachachi (from Az Theatre) and Debbie Rothenberg (a Sesame practitioner)

The meeting started with Jonathan Chadwick's description of the origins of the Gaza Drama Long Term project in Az Theatre's War Stories project and went on to describe Theatre For Everybody's response to the second intifada in 2000 and the start of their drama therapeutic work with young people. Copies of the transcript of the Gaza Drama event held at Soho Theatre in 2007 (where the development of Theatre for Everybody's work is described) and various literature relating to the War Stories project were given to the Sesame Institute

Becky Mackeonis, assisted by Debbie Rothenberg described the origins of the Sesame Institute's work with its foundation in the 1960s by Marian Lindkvist after she had had a significant dream. A group of drama workers started what was known as the Sesame KATS which went round to a number of centres and institutions where they worked with patients who were receiving psychotherapeutic treatment.

The beneficial impact of this work was observed and this invigorated the idea of the use of drama and movement within therapy. The techniques developed as accessories for practicing psychotherapists and clinical psychologists. Drama and movement was conceived to be another tool, a kind of extra resource to the 'talking' therapies

The development of this work was enhanced by the influence of the work of Rudolf Laban (exploration of balance in movement according to time, effort and direction) and Carl Gustav Jung (exploration of the 'good self' and the key importance of symbol and metaphor in therapeutic processes). Also influential was the work of Peter Slade, the pioneering child drama therapist whose work centres on the benefits of enhancing the child's capacity to play. Marian Lindkvist's original contribution to this confluence of inspirations was the key importance of Movement with Touch. Also Becky and Debbie drew attention to work which transcended spoken language and was conducted without words.

They confirmed the central importance of the journey of departure and return which shaped the sessional work and how this journey engaged with an imaginative space which is sometimes described as the ‘land'. The dynamic of the session and its ritualised structure was influenced by Marian Lindkvist's researches into spiritual healing in Africa.

A full description of the Institute's history and methodologies can be found in their literature.

We talked about the key role of the witness in the work and the importance for the therapist of supervision and support was described. The Sesame Approach does not interpret material presented in sessions, rather it uses the container of symbol and metaphor to work with such material. In many ways the therapist is a witness as much as a facilitator. The process of witnessing was connected to the process of ‘holding' and this in turn was connected to the 'land' as a 'transitional' space. There is a strong sense in Sesame's work that trauma is stored in the body and that disturbances or blocks to development and realisation of potential can be moved and solved through what Debbie described as a process of expression, re-experiencing and re-programming. Very often in the work the act of mirroring can be the starting point: a basic form of relationship. This precedes the development of the sense that the sufferer is not isolated in their suffering and that there is the potential for an expressive form to create a bridge to the outside world.

The most recent developments in Sesame's work were described, particularly a new course designed for therapists and practitioners which is being delivered through a series of weekend working sessions. The first group undertaking this course had just begun their work.

Becky and Debbie also pointed out that the Institute ran a series of 3 or 4 day courses which were introductory to the Sesame methods.

We went on to talk about practical ways in which Sesame could work with the Gaza Drama Long Term project.

In this part of the discussion the significance and importance of the witness and the 'outside eye' was proposed. This was the basis of the support and supervision that the Sesame Institute could probably offer. The idea would be to assist practitioners in Gaza to process their experience of working with disturbance

In the event that Theatre for Everybody might start a programme of work in Gaza, it might be possible to organise online supervision. This could be started with a seminar using skype or video conferencing where the practitioners from Theatre for Everybody could review their work and have an exchange with a small group of practitioners and supervisors. This could be followed by regular online or skype consultation/supervision sessions. This could give the practitioners a continuous and supportive way of reflecting on their work and gaining insights and suggestions for their practice.

In addition to this Debbie suggested UK dramatherapists in an email network could further enhance the work with advice about techniques and exercises suggested by their knowledge of what Theatre for Everybody were trying to achieve.

It is also important to point out that Sesame works in collaboration with the Central School of Speech and Drama on a 15 month MA course. The role of the Institute is to enhance training and further the aims of the practice of drama therapy. Debbie Rothenberg said she would get in touch with the Applied Theatre course leader at Central. We agreed that the creation of a network around the work was very important.

We also spoke about the importance of recognising that drama therapy work in the Palestinian territories was already taking place and that we should be aware of what resources were already there. A Sesame trained practitioner working in the West Bank called Petra Barghouti was mentioned in the respect.

The purpose of this short report is to offer participants in the Gaza Drama Long Term project ideas about how to advance the work. Working in more depth would involve a list of books.

The work of the Sesame Institute is well documented and we came away with a series of articles and copies of the magazine. Also there is a recently produced DVD.

The project is therefore beginning to create a library.

The bibliography will follow but it will include works by Rudolf Laban, C.G. Jung, Peter Slade as well as the key works from Sesame.

Jonathan Chadwick
21 July 2009

Report on meeting at Equity hosted by the International Committee for Artists Freedom on Tuesday 21 July 2009

Ten members and associates of ICAF met with Jonathan Chadwick and Maysoon Pachachi and listened to Jonathan's explanation of why Hossam Madhoun and Jamal Al Rozzi could not be there and what the background to the Gaza Drama project was.

The statement by Hossam Madhoun sent specially for the London meetings was read out by Edward Halsted and the two dialogue written by Hossam and Jamal were read out by Ian Barritt, Edward Halsted, Janet Henfrey and Bobby Mills.

There was enthusiasm for the pieces that were read out and suggestions about finding ways of producing them. People wanted to see more of these short scenes. A proposal was made about organising an evening of reading and music to raise funds for the project.

Ideas were floated about whether similar projects could be contacted in Israel and similar to the Soho Theatre meeting ideas about working with young people in the two communities were explored. Questions were asked about how easy it would be for us to get into Gaza and also about how the rule of Gaza by Hamas might have affected Theatre for Everybody's ability to produce theatre.

Michael Branwell suggested that an organisation in which he was involved called IPAT whose work was specifically aimed at helping artist in different parts of the world to sustain and continue their work might be able to support some of the actors involved in Theatre For Everybody.

Gaza Drama Long Term
Report on the meeting at Soho Theatre on Monday 20 July 2009

There were eighteen people who gathered to listen to why Jamal Al Rozzi and Hossam Madhoun of Theatre for Everybody could not get out of Gaza and to hear about the origins and aims of the Gaza Drama Long Term project.

Tom Chadwick read out the statement that Hossam Madhoun had written specially for these London meetings. Then the conversation started.

People were engaged by the technical problems of communication with Gaza and responded with interest to our plans to create pieces of work through video conferencing facilities. People started to make suggestions about the kind of events that could be held that would make live contact with Gaza.

Also there was interest in the current and past work of Theatre for Everybody. People really wanted to know what the circumstances of their performances were. What they had produced, what kind of repertoire they had undertaken, how they had been received, what kind of problems, if any, they had encountered because of the rule of Hamas.

In response to Hossam's question in his statement about how we might express what was going on in the mind and imagination of a ten year old whose house had collapsed on him, Lisa Goldman, Soho's Artistic Director and Suzanna Gorman, their Connect Director, suggested a project which would share plays between ten year olds in Gaza and in London. Soho Theatre already had a developed programme and methodology to create this work here in the UK but said it could work in Gaza as well.

This idea then sparked off ideas about links between young people in Israel and young people in Palestine. Caution was expressed also about engaging in projects which used young people to demonstrate a potential for reconciliation which didn't really exist. Nevertheless the talk related the project to ideas about conflict resolution and reconciliation.

Suggestions were made by knowledgeable people about how the team we are proposing to send later in the year can best gain entry to Gaza.

There was considerable interest in the scenes which Hossam and Jamal had sent as a part of our Gaza Drama Video Link project (the scenes were read by Jennie Stoller and Tom Chadwick). Also people expressed a desire to see Theatre for Everybody's current work: Life after the Occupation.

The meeting showed the potential to make contact between young theatre practitioners here in the UK and in Palestine. For example, one recently graduated theatre director was to work in Jenin's Freedom Theatre and was asking advice.

Jonathan Chadwick 
22 July 2009


Az Theatre in the Soho Theatre Studio, July 2007


Presenting the work of Theatre for Everybody from Gaza, Palestine

With a public telephone conversation London-Gaza

Theatre For Everybody's two founder members, Jamal Al Rozzi and Hossam Madhoun were to present their company's work at London's Soho Theatre on July 17th 2007. The event was a part of a collaboration with Az Theatre with whom the company from Gaza have been in the War Stories partnership since 2002. Because of the closures to the Gaza Strip they were unable to come.

Az Theatre decided to create an event that would be a presentation of their work against the background of the recent history and current situation in Gaza and to follow this up with a public telephone call to Jamal and Hossam that could be shared by the whole audience.

The event consisted of a series of readings from interviews of Hossam and Jamal, material that they had sent, official information and the showing of extracts from films.

Although this document is being produced some time after the event and the situation in Gaza has got worse we are not updating the information.

What follows is a copy of what was read out and the actual telephone conversation but not of the discussion that took place.

The event was hosted by Jonathan Chadwick.

The readings were given by Chipo Chung, Alan Marni and Jennie Stoller.

The video from which the transcript was taken by Maysoon Pachachi and Roy Cornwall.

Anya Rhyzhenkova was Az Theatre's producer for the event.

Jennie Stoller and Amy Fox transcribed the telephone conversation.

With the kind assistance and support of In Place of War at the University of Manchester.

See more about the event here