POSTCARD FROM JERUSALEM...
...and from Gaza:
Welcome to the Artman English blog...
As you might or might not have heard, we are currently working for Theatre Day Productions, an incredible theatre company that has been resident in Gaza for 20 years.
This year, Theatre Day Productions have created twenty theatre companies from among the people of Gaza, which will bring six shows to 144,000 children in the Gaza Strip. It's a pretty amazing set up and of enormous importance, as 50% of the population in the area is below 15 years old, and growing up in a conflict zone.
All of us who love theatre know it offers all people the opportunity to dream, laugh, empathise, consider and discuss, but it also has a very special role to play with young people. The imagination is the tool which can truly change outcomes, and for young people all over the world theatre can be deeply transformational... Needless to say how vital this is to the young people in Gaza, who have experienced three wars in the last seven years and face a future of %40 unemployment and %40 living in poverty.
Anyway, back to the impressive work of Theatre Day Productions and what we are doing here working with them...
Jackie Lubeck and Jan Willems are the founders of the Theatre Day Productions and, as you can imagine, they are held Jackie in the highest esteem by all of the people in Gaza whom their work has
touched over the years. Unfortunately, Jackie has been unable to enter Gaza for the last five years and so is running the company with Jan from Jerusalem; Jan, likewise, is having difficulties getting the required permission from the Israeli Defence Force to come to Gaza and join his team, here on the ground, for their latest project; as is Paloma, who is in Jerusalem with them at the moment.
In some ways it has been useful, if entirely unwelcome, for both of us to experience some separation as a consequence of the circumstances surrounding Gaza, as in the tiniest of ways it offers some insight into the Palestinian condition. Hopefully, we will be re-united soon.
Back to the project. It is founded by the United Nations and there will be 20 theatre troupes of 4 people each, touring 6 shows written by Jackie through Gaza, making 720 performances in three weeks, to be seen by 144,000 young people. Great.
Oli is part of a directing and acting mentoring team (there are currently two people in the team, Oli and Steve Tiller, because the other two mentors haven't been given permission to enter Gaza yet), who is working with six directors who have come up through the ranks of Theatre Day Producions acting school in Gaza. Paloma will be assisting with the mentoring and teaching video and photography, as well as documenting the process.
We hope that you will continue to tune in to our blog, as it is a truly important project in terms of the humanitarian value that it brings to the people of Gaza, and it is a wonderful achievement for Theatre Day Productions.
Catch up again soon.
Oli & Paloma