Marhaba from Ramallah in the West Bank.
Al-Manara Square in Ramallah
I am here to do pre-dissertation research and as a participant in the Ashtar Youth International Theatre Festival which begins on Saturday. I have a fantastic group of artists from New York City (the Co-Op Theatre East youth ensemble) who will be joining me tomorrow. This week I am beginning to collect interviews with theatre artists working in Palestine. I will be doing that the entire time I’m here but I’ve had an extra week to get everything kick started and get acclimated.
I have been studying Palestinian culture and theatre since I was in undergrad but there is no amount of reading that can prepare you for what is actually happening on the ground here. In only four days of being here, I have met some of the most remarkable people, artists and activists from around the world.
I have never felt so welcome as a stranger to a new place. For example, I took a shared taxi to Jenin (which is the most northern city in the West Bank) today and was speaking with a young woman named Noor who was sitting next to me in the cab. She was pointing out various sites like olive orchards, villages, checkpoints and Israeli settlements. She invited me to her home for lunch. We spoke about life in Jenin and how her family had moved several times because their home was destroyed by buldozers and then bombed.
Homemade Palestinian lunch in Jenin.
I am looking forward to sharing more stories and photos from Palestine in addition to sharing more about Ashtar.
Ashtar aims at making theatre a fundamental need within Palestinian society, through stimulating cultural awareness, awakening perceptions towards aesthetics and arousing artistic sensibility and taste. It also seeks to build and strengthen cultural bridges with the Theatre World through creative works and ideas. Ashtar is actively engaged in researching and experimenting with various artistic elements, tools, and techniques. It aims at creating at theatre that has the scent of Musk, the color of Amber and the taste of Figs. A theatre that is capable of penetrating all walls including that of the audience’s unconscious.
The entrance to the Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah.
I look forward to sharing more from Palestine and the Ashtar International Youth Theatre Festival. Here are a few more photos from around the neighborhood.
Rooster on sale at poultry and bird farm
Sunset over Ramallah