Freedon Theatre Attacked - Open Letter, Signatures welcome

Below is a draft of an open letter from theatre makers in Wales relating to the recent attack on Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp, where our colleague Jacob Gough is general manager. Please feel free to add your signature through the comment box below, and/or to comment on the draft. The goal is to send this off by the end of next week to key Welsh and UK newspapers, the Welsh Minister for Heritage, and the Israeli Embassy in London. This is a small gesture of solidarity on our part, written in a spirit of support and hope. John

 

Open Letter from the Theatre Makers of Wales

We, the theatre makers of Wales, deplore the recent attacks in Jenin on The Freedom Theatre, its people and property. Freedom Theatre is a beacon for artistic expression and cultural co-operation, offering children and young adults in the Jenin area a safe space in which they are free to express themselves, to explore their creativity and emotions. The theatre has the following admirable goals:

 - To raise the quality of performing arts and cinema in the area.

 - To offer a space in which children and youth can act, create and express themselves freely, imagining new realities and challenging existing social and cultural barriers.

 - To empower the young generation to use the arts to promote positive change in their community.

 - To break the cultural isolation that separates Jenin from the wider Palestinian and global communities.

 

Sadly, it is reliably reported that in the past week, Israeli soldiers attacked the theatre, and arrested staff members.

 

Unless initiatives such as Freedom Theatre are nourished and supported, there can be little prospect for wider understanding and peace. We call on the Israeli government to investigate and effect an immediate end to these attacks. We call on our fellow artists in Israel and beyond to support The Freedom Theatre as an inspiring source of cultural understanding and artistic hope.

 

Signed

John McGrath, Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales

Peter Cox, MBE, writer

Greg Cullen, writer and director

Terry Victor, writer and performer

Rebecca Gould, director

Meredydd Barker,writer

Kaite O’Reilly, writer

Abdul Shakek, Creative Associate, National Theatre Wales

Carys Shannon, writer and producer

Carmen Medway-Stephens, writer and director

Tim Price, writer

Bridget Keehan, director

Guy O’Donnell, designer

Kath Chandler, writer

Chris Kinsey, writer

Tom Beardshaw, media artist

Sam Burns, writer

Alun Howell, writer

Sam Boardman-Jacobs, choreographer

Lisa Perry, writer

Alan Harris, writer

Tom Wentworth, writer

Brad Birch, writer

Ian Staples, writer

Kit Lambert, writer

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Comment by Jacob Gough on August 25, 2011 at 5:15
Had a call from The British Council in Jerusalem, the British Paliament have requested more information so all your efforts are working, keep up the good work guys and thank you. With everything that's going on I know it's difficult to keep up but please people keep the pressure on.
Comment by Maria Morancho on August 23, 2011 at 0:26

It appears the situation is not getting any better. I fear that the international respond to the killing of Juliano Mer-Khamis has alerted Israeli forces of the Freedom Theatre 'connections' with outside political powers through 'acting' forces. As a result the army must have been instructed to do their upmost to try to silent its voice and kill their work with Jenin youths. Theatre has the power to bring the conflict again to the front page. This power should be put to action by waking up people's attention to these issues and demanding key political actions. Politicians only act if and when the general public/voters become conscientious about an issue and start following it and looking for their politicians and public figures statements of disapproval and possible actions.  

Last year, inspired by Human rights activist and writer Jen Marlow's call to Action, I organized a reading of her latest script in connection with the killing of a friend at the start of the 2nd Intifada. She did not foresee the killing of another of her friends and colleague, that of Juliano Mer-Khamis, less the latest abuses to the Freedom Theater by the Israeli forces (which project initiated by Arna Mer-Khamis they’ve already destroyed in 2002 but later resuscitated even stronger by her son.) It appears that once more Jenin’s voice wants to be silenced and its youth killed either by the gun or the destruction of their souls. I cannot but wonder if a letter of support is enough when we do have the power of a free voice and can do a great deal to help raise the issue.

In response to this year’s killings and attacks to the Freedom Theatre, I am determine to fully develop, produce, direct and tour a new and fitting version of Jen’s play. I believe it necessary to put our ‘work where our mouth is’. And from here I would like to extend jen’s call for theatrical action to all able to ‘act’ to do so, within their artistic field, to make sure that the general public knows about the Palestinian cry and the Freedom Theatre project so that their voice and precious work continue.

In view of the latest UK riots brought about by disaffected youths with no hope of a future, the work of the Freedom Theatre it is a clear lesson and guide on how the arts can help youths to create alternative realities and restore hope and laughter. Britain is a country that loves raising moneys for almost any imaginable cause. Here I don’t ask for small coins but for big riches, that of our creative work. Please give generously and soon to help restore hope.

Comment by Jacob Gough on August 6, 2011 at 14:25
A couple of hours ago one of the actors from our acting school was kidnapped from an Israeli military checkpoint. Press release will follow.
Comment by Jacob Gough on August 5, 2011 at 20:17

Thank you all for your support it really is much appreciated.

 

At the moment the 2 have had their detention for interrogation extended by a military court until the 10th August, the lawyer has submitted requests to the Israeli Supreme court to intervene and allow her access to them, but this has been refused. The reasons the army are giving are that the 2 were 'acting against the security of the region' which is a general statement and means nothing, they use phrases like this whenever they imprison someone as the Israeli courts will not interfere if the word security is mentioned in any way.

 

Thank you

 

Jacob

Comment by Peter Cox MBE on August 4, 2011 at 20:21

Hi everyone

Thanks to all for signing this letter and spreading the word.  If you check out John's latest blog you'll see that he sent the letter this afternoon.  I did a count and made it 94 signatories but maths was never my strong point. Fantastic support.

Big thanks to NTW for hosting this process and all best wishes to Jacob and his colleagues in Jenin.

Comment by Sian Taylor on August 4, 2011 at 0:05
Sian Taylor, performer, director and stage manager
Comment by Siân Thomas on August 3, 2011 at 17:00
Sian Thomas, Creative Producer, Adain Avion
Comment by GradCo on August 3, 2011 at 12:44

Please add me

 

Vivienne Buckley,  Director.

 

Thank you

 

Viv.

Comment by Sam Potter on August 3, 2011 at 12:18

Please add my name also,

 

Sam Potter, Director.

 

Thank you,

 

Sam

Comment by Matthew Bulgo on August 3, 2011 at 11:00

Please add me.

 

Matthew Bulgo, actor & writer

 

Many thanks.

 

M

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