The Freedom Theatre, a people-funded arts and cultural forum, from Jenin Refugee Camp (in Israeli occupied West Bank) is currently touring India at the invitation of Jana Natya Manch (people theatre) located at Studio Safdar in New Delhi.
The Palestinian theatre is expected to stay for three months in India. In collaboration with Jana Natya Manch, it will perform in ten cities including Bhopal, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kerala, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. Later Jana Natya Manch will tour the West Bank.
This is the first ever India-Palestine theatre collaboration. The collaboration between Freedom Theatre’s students and some of India’s foremost theatre experts will result in a unique play, telling stories of freedom and resistance from both nations. A book and documentary film will also be made about this historic collaboration.
The idea behind this venture is to educate Indian masses about the plight of Palestinian Muslims and Christians under Jewish occupation. Watch a video below.
The Freedom Theatre is a cultural centre which has operated in the north of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank since 2006. The theatre aims to assist the youth of Jenin in coping with the stresses they face living under continued brutal Israeli military occupation. It serves to provide a safe space where youth can express their emotions through the arts with the aim of constructing a free and healthy community. The Freedom Theatre offers a drama workshop space, acting school, filmmaking and photography studio, library, talent campus, and various performances.
The staff of Freedom Theatre have been an ongoing target of Israel Occupation Force (IOF). In April 2011, Julian Mer Khamis, founder of Freedom Theatre was assassinated by a Jewish settler. Khamis was son of a Palestinian father and Jewish (Jenny Nyman) mother. Several of its staff members been abducted in the past, such as, Rami Awni Hwayel (actor), Adnan Naghnaghiye and Chairperson Bilal Saadi (head technicians), etc.
Jenin, a hub of fruits and vegetables, was a sub-governorate under Ottoman rule, a status continued during the British “mandated occupation” until 1947. In June 1948 Jenin was attacked by Jewish terrorists belonging to Haganah, but pushed back by the Palestinian and Iraqi fighters. However, the Jewish terrorism in other parts of occupied Palestine forced over 10,000 refugees to find safety in Jenin. The UN-brokered ceasefire left Jenin within Jordanian-controlled West Bank. In June 1967, the city was captured by Jewish army and remained under its control until November 1995 when it came under the control of Palestinian Authority (PA). Since 2000, the Jewish army reoccupied several part of the city on several occasions. In April 2002, Jenin underwent an eleven-day Israeli assault. The destruction was condemned by the international community, and “Jenin” became a symbol of Palestinian resistance.