Creative Writing Workshop

Iara Mantinan Bua, a freelance writer from Spain and Tahseen Yaqeen, a  Palestinian writer from Ramallah recently lead a Creative Writing workshop at the theatre (3 June – 10 June 2012).  The second year Acting School students who participated in the workshop were given the tools necessary to explore their identity as Palestinians living under occupation.  Iara explains that “one cannot be an actor until they truly know themselves in such a way that they are aware of the things that make them who they are.” This writing workshop was meant to help them develop the skills necessary to become increasingly introspective.

In Iara’s own writing she describes her sense of independence and how important travel has been for her. She describes herself as a “lioness of god”, and as an “independent woman” who enjoys the small things in life (i.e. watching sunsets in South Africa and drinking Arabic coffee in Jenin). Ala, a second year Acting School student at The Freedom Theatre says he could feel her independence in her poem, through her words. Iara explained to the students that the goal of their writing should be to get readers to feel who they are.

In addition to exploring their identity through words the students also sketched ideas for photographs while discussing their writing. Saber, another second year Acting School student described a photograph of a woman standing in the middle of the street bringing traffic to a halt, an example of how to visually convey an unstoppable woman.  During the workshop the students delivered monologues of their stories as a way to better express themselves.

Check out some photos from last week’s workshop below.


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Zakaria Zubeidi held in unlawful detention by the Palestinian Authority


Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder and avid supporter of The Freedom Theatre, was arrested by Palestinian security forces on the 13th of May and taken to Jericho prison. Since then Zakaria has not been allowed to meet his lawyer Farid Hawash or have any contact with his family.


“I am unable to determine if Zakaria has been treated correctly since I haven’t been able to talk with him,” says Mr. Hawash. “We have to apply the correct procedure of Palestinian law; as his lawyer I must be allowed to meet with my client.”

According to his lawyer, Zakaria’s arrest has not followed due process since he should have been brought before a Jenin court and not taken away to Jericho. His right to communicate with his family after a maximum of 10 days has also been violated, as has his right to consult with a lawyer. After having travelled to Jericho Mr. Hawash was only able to see Zakaria for a minute to say hello.


We ask you to contact the following representatives of the Palestinian Authority to demand that they abide by Palestinian law in the case of Zakaria Zubeidi and other detainees. Please also check if you have a PLO representative office in your country.


00-970-(0)59-777-88-87 Majd Faraj, Head of Palestinian Intelligence

00-970-(0)59-900-00-11 Abo Mohammad Shadeh, Head of the security of the President’s Office

00-970-(0)59-944-75-47 Dr Said Abo Ali, Minister of Interior

00-970-(0)59-930-38-50 Saeb Erekat, Head of negotiations

00-970-(0)59-955-88-22 Ataeb Abdurahem, National Security



Nabil Al-Raee held in unlawful detention by the Israeli army


Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, was abducted in the early hours of yesterday, June 6th, by the Israeli army (see previous press release here:


According to Nabil’s lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, he is presently being held in the Jalameh detention centre north of Jenin, inside Israel. This has been the only information given to the lawyer thus far. The interrogations at Jalameh and other military detention centres commonly involve inhuman treatment; sleep deprivation, psychological pressure and binding in painful positions.


This is the Israeli army’s fourth attack on The Freedom Theatre, its employees and their families. On numerous occasions The Freedom Theatre has expressed its full cooperation in the investigation of the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis and has proved this cooperation by meeting every requested appointment.


This last abduction of Nabil Al-Raee has led us to the conviction that the regular and systematized harassment of the employees of The Freedom Theatre has nothing to do with the investigation of the murder of Juliano but that it is clearly a campaign directed at the Freedom Theatre itself.


We urge all supporters of The Freedom Theatre specifically and protectors of art and culture in general to call and e-mail the nearest Israeli representative office to demand the immediate release of Nabil Al-Raee (ID-number 906349162) and an end to the systematic harassment of the members of The Freedom Theatre. In addition, please call the District Coordination Office of the Israeli army at +972-(0)4-640-73-12.



Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre Taken by Israeli Soldiers

Press Release from The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, northern West Bank
June 6, 2012
At approximately 03:15 am the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and took him to an unknown location.
Nabil’s wife, Micaela Miranda explains what happened: “The dog started barking so I went outside and saw soldiers jumping over the gate and come into the yard of the house. They asked for my husband and I asked what for, that it’s my right to know and it’s my house. The soldiers replied that they were not going to tell me. They then took Nabil, brought him to an army jeep and drove off. We are very worried because we don’t know where they took him and why.”
Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre: “I live on the floor above Nabil and when I heard what was happening I tried to go down to talk to the soldiers because I speak Hebrew. The house was surrounded by masked Israeli soldiers and three of them immediately pointed their weapons at me and pushed me back into the house.”

Attempts were immediately made to contact the District Coordination Office of the Israeli army but to no avail.

More than half the employees of The Freedom Theatre were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army, including Nabil Al-Raee. All came to the appointments as scheduled and answered to their best of their knowledge the given questions even though they were intimidated and even threatened.
Jonatan Stanczak continues: “I don’t understand why they do this after they know they could simply have made a phone call to Nabil and he would have come to answer any questions or concerns that they might have. Since this has happened so many times in the past, I can’t interpret it as anything else than an ongoing harassment of the employees of The Freedom Theatre and their families by the Israeli army.”
At this point it is unclear if any other members of The Freedom Theatre have been taken during the night. Several of them have not responded to phone calls.
For further information Jonatan Stanczak, the managing director of The Freedom Theatre can be reached on and +972-(0)599-017-654
Micaela Miranda can be reached on and +972-(0)597-016-230.

Photography Workshop in Faquaa

On Tuesday March 20th Saja, Aeman, and Manar, students from the photography workshop went to the local village of Faquaa to give a photography lesson to local children, providing them with the tools necessary to document their experience as it pertains to water. Additionally a group of children from Gaza were selected to photograph the water issues they face in their daily lives.

The photography students met with the children in the local meeting center where Saja led a lesson on photography with the help of Aeman and Manar. This was the children’s first time using an actual digital camera as opposed to a camera phone. The students learned the basics of how a camera works, how to compose a photograph, and photographic elements they should keep in mind when taking pictures, such as changing perspective, getting close up to their subjects etc.

The students and their group then went out to explore the village of Faquaa, a village in northern Occupied Palestine, where residents are denied access to water resources that irrigate the lush fields of Israel which lay on the other side of the dividing fence. This is the fence that the Israelis put up in order to confiscate the land and water resources of Faquaa. The name of the village, Faquaa, means spring water bubbles in Arabic, but access to water here disappeared long ago.

The children, acting as hosts took our photography students around to show them some of the ways that they have adapted to the water shortage such as using containers and large plastic tarps to collect rain water. At the edge of the village, next to many homes lays the Israeli constructed separation fence. It is a thick mass of razor wire armed with motion sensors that detects if anyone gets too close. There is a road on the Israel side that sits next to the fence. The children are afraid to get too close to it as they are afraid of the soldiers “Jaish” coming.

The children of Faquaa explained that there are underground wells on the israeli side that are not being used, wells that at one point the residents of Faquaa had access to. They said that the lack of clean water has contributed to many being very ill as they showed us the murky brown water the people in the village collect and  that getting fresh water brought into the village is very expensive.

Photographs were taken of the well that holds the rain water, giant drums of dirty water that are used for drinking, washing dishes, and bathing, the tarp they put on the ground to collect the rain water for the well, and the daunting fence that separates them from the lush and green fields of Israel. Dr. Farha, one of the thousands of Palestinian community leaders using non-violent, popular struggle to oppose the illegal apartheid policies of Israel said that it is the most unbelievable sight in the summer when their land is dry and brown from lack of water, and on the Israel side, sprinklers are sticking out of the ground showering the land keeping it green and fertile. “The contrast is just amazing.” he says.

On April 12th each group will present their photos to each other, via video conference, that best represent some of the water related challeneges they continue to face in their respected communities. This event will be hosted by the Qattan Centre, which is a division of the Qattan Foundation, a UK charity organization working towards the development of culture and education, with a particular focus on children, teachers and young artists. The Freedom Bus will be part of the conference and performing at the event. For more information about Palestinian water and sanitation please visit Thirsting For Justice.

Saja sits with one of the local girls in Faquaa.

Collected water for home use

Aeman walking with the local kids in Faquaa

Homes in Faquaa overlook the lush green fields that Israel has separated them from

The fence that the Israelis put up in order to confiscate the lands and water resources of Faquaa.

Kids standing in front of the fence that the Israelis put up in order to confiscate the lands and water resources of Faquaa.

The residents of Faquaa collect rain water for their wells by using plastic

Saja, Aeman, and Manar walking with the local kids in Faquaa after an afternoon taking photographs

Kids in Faquaa playing with a well

Demonstration in Solidarity with Hana Shalabi

The girls in the photography workshop organized a demonstration in Jenin in support for the immediate release of Hana Shalabi, a 29 year old woman from Burqin who has been on a hunger strike since February 16th in protest of her detention. On Saturday March 10th at noon the girls headed to Jenin city with the signs they made that morning and flyers filled with information on how others can help support Hana. Instead of letting the low turn out of the demonstration in Jenin get them down, they decided to take the demonstration to Hana’s home in Burqin, where the girls met with Hana’s family, took photographs, and showed their support for Hana and her family. Hana is in her 26th day of her hunger strike and her parents in support of their daughter have been on hunger strike for two and a half weeks.

They will be organizing another demonstration next week in Jenin. For more information on how you can help Hana please visit the sites below:

The girls sit in solidarity with Hana.

Posters to show support for Hana line the street outside of her home in Burqin.

Hana's sister holds photos of both her sister, Hana, and their brother who was killed by the army in 2005.

Hana's niece and nephew. Photo by Deena

Hana's brother stands at the gate of the garden at her home in Burqin.

Hana's niece and nephew at her home in Burqin. Photo by Deena

Boys from Burqin protest Hana's detention. Photo by Iman

Friday Children’s Workshop

Every Friday the theatre hosts workshops for children in the camp. The workshops include art, theatre, dance, and film. During last Friday’s workshop the kids had the chance to learn how to paint with watercolors using paintbrushes and straws and practice their dancing skills in the theatre. Check out some of the photos below.

Upcoming Playback Performances

The Freedom Theatre in partnership with Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Society presents: STORIES FROM AIDA CAMP

Tuesday March 6th, 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Society, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem

The Freedom Theatre in partnership with Hebron Rehabilitation Committee presents: STORIES FROM HEBRON YOUTH

Wednesday March 7th, 11am – 12:30pm
Spanish Academy – Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, Hebron


During these interactive theatre events we will invite audience members to share autobiographical accounts relating to the key issues of their home communities. We will also hear stories about the various ways that youth and adults are engaging in popular struggle and civil resistance. An ensemble of actors and musicians will use Playback Theatre* to enact these accounts.

These events are part of the lead-up to the Freedom Bus initiative.

*Playback Theatre is an interactive theatre approach used in over 50 countries as a tool for community building, public dialogue, trauma recovery, social activism, and popular education. In a Playback event, audience members share thoughts, feelings, memories and autobiographical accounts, and watch as a team of actors and musicians instantly transform these experiences into improvised theatre pieces.

For more information, please email or contact Ben Rivers on +972(0)592-902256 / +972(0)544-930542 or Faisal Abu Alheja on +972(0)599649008

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