FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Suicide Note from Palestine

by LEONA VICARIO

It is the year 2090. A violent Israeli shelling of the Gaza strip is projected on a folding screen. Amal, a student shows up in the middle of the stage lying down in a hospital bed. Her heartbeat has already stopped and she is being resurrected in a medical care center by strange medical staff wear in UN white coats.

The Freedom Theatre starts with this scene for its latest critical performance, Suicide Note From Palestine, which opened on April 4 to commemorate the second anniversary of the murder of Juliano Mer Khanis, the founding General Director of the artistic project. He was found dead after being shot by masked gunmen two years ago at the same place where the theatre is based, in the Jenin Refugee Camp. His case remains unresolved to this day.

The actors lead the spectators into a visual tour that goes over a Palestinian girl’s nightmare the night before her history exam. Lights and shadows create a disturbing atmosphere where she will be forced to interact with all the external key actors that have played a fundamental role in the Palestine current situation. A video camera takes up the role of an actor as it documents and gives testimony –mirroring the reality of the international community— of Palestine´s fate.

“This play is important because it’s pointing at the place of the pain inside the Palestinian people’s minds and hearts,” says the performance’s director Nabil Al-Raee, who has been involved in the Freedom Theatre project since its inception.

During her dream, Amal is invited to take part in a UN general meeting representing Palestine. In her speech, the girl embodying her own country announces her decision to die as a political act, fed up with the hopelessness and forsaken attitude that Palestine suffers from. The violent Israeli army, Israel as an occupying country, an agreeable Europe, a paternalistic United States and the hypocrital and self-interested Arab world, along with a United Nations medical care team in charge of drugging Palestine during her uprisings, are the players that disorient and harass Amal along this intense review of land, history, politics and occupation of the country.

“It is an exploration of identity and uses social satire to present an image of the national trauma of the Palestinian people,” the performance’s creators described.

Expressing Palestinian identity through performance

The starring actress, Christine Hodali, 24, is part of the Palestinian generation that has lived under occupation their entire lives. They have to struggle inside and outside themselves in order to find their own identities in a certain context strongly marked by hopelessness and the lack of opportunities. These generations have to find out the way to express their struggle regarding their attachment to the land, the refugee issue, societal limitations and traditions, without forgetting who they are. For Christine, she found her path in acting.

“For me, as a Palestinian woman, the theatre offers me a freedom space, a way to open my heart and feelings; to raise my voice without any barrier or obstacle. No one can silence me on the stage. I criticize or reflect on family, culture, politics or any topic, spreading the ideas straight as an arrow,” she explained.

“This new performance tries to raise the awareness of Palestinians, to wake them up and to make them realize the ongoing situation here,” she said. “We want them [to be] active for Palestine, not just to sit and watch what is happening. All Palestinians should think [about] what we could do, how to point to a solution. And the theatre can contribute to prompt a change, I can detect it. The message reaches them.”

Suicide Note from Palestine is based on the play 4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane, an English playwright who developed her plays around existentialist worries. Nabil was looking over 4:48 Psychosis and considered an adaptation for the Freedom Theatre.

“We just started to read it, thinking ‘ok, what is going on?’ and we went on to discuss it. Who is talking there? And we thought that even when we are bringing the classical text, even the literature from Shakespeare; we have to apply that into our reality, in one way or another.”

“So we thought of a girl, she is Palestine, and she is talking about her nightmares, dreams, men, what is happening [in her reality],” Nabil continued. “The idea started from there and we followed a process of discovering, really discovering what can be the solution, what we want to be changed…This [play] came along because of our common feelings that Palestine is disappearing day after day and no one is really moving or reacting against the complete fake idea that we are equals. First you have to feel yourself as strong and equal and afterwards you will have peace. But you do not bring peace when you have a boot on your head that tells you to say ‘Let’s do peace.’”

Resisting through the arts

The Freedom Theatre was founded in 2006 following the idea of a previous project run by Arna Mer Khamis, Juliano’s mother, which focused on using theatre and arts to address children’s immediate trauma, chronic fears and depression in Jenin during the second Intifada.

Its members have faced harassment, persecutions, detentions, but that hasn’t deterred them. The goal of Freedom Theatre is to generate cultural resistance thought acting. The Theatre’s members believe that the arts are an effective path to build up a free and empowering society. In their basis, they encourage freedom of expression and respect for individual rights, incorporating cultural activities that break taboos, stimulate cooperation and enhance the understanding of each other.

As the members of the project show, acting is a form or resistance.

“I think theatre is very powerful. You have to investigate, to make you questions,” Nabil said. “We succeeded in transforming the whole issue of Palestine from the political side of the story to theatre. Our goal is to create an artistic and political basis from artists and performers. Theatre is also like a platform for different kinds of generations to express, to explore, to say ‘We have finally found the space to speak.’ It empowers participants to be confident enough without anyone telling you what you can’t do.”

Leona Vicario writes for Palestine Monitor where this piece first appeared.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail