Voix du Théâtre en Palestine

"ACTING OUT" : Contribute to putting the spotlight on the men and women who make Palestinian theater – 50 testimonies, 220 photographs

Project visual Voix du Théâtre en Palestine
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Voix du Théâtre en Palestine

In the face of the enthusiasm of my interlocuters, a book of photographs supported by quotations of Palestinian actors became a book of their testimonies about their lives in the theater illustrated by my photographs; they had become the book’s co-authors. Without them, their words, their support, and the enormous pleasure shared between us, Acting Out would not exist. It is at once a witness to the creative force of the Palestinian theater and to the engagement of the men and women who make it come to life in the heart of a land occupied for more than 70 years.

 

For the first time the spotlight is focused on them, that they may tell us of how they make their art, a militant art engaged in making their dreams and hopes for peace a reality, but always, at the center, an art.

After 6 years of determined work with the help of a small team of friends, the manuscript of Acting Out is now in the final stages of preparation. Once the page layouts have been finished all will be ready for the English version to be printed in East Jerusalem and the French version, in Paris. Distribution will be assured by:

  • The Educational Bookshop in East Jerusalem,
  • Gilgamesh Publishers in London,
  • les Éditions Riveneuve in Paris.

Estimated release date is late fall, 2021

Acting Out is about to come to life and we need your support!

Our first crowdfunding goal is 15,000 euros. This is the minimum amount necessary to cover the costs of physically producing the book: page layouts and first printings.

But this is just the beginning! We need to reach the second goal of 24,000 euros.

This will permit us to ensure the distribution of Acting Out and to provide several copies to each of the 50 actors and 26 theaters who participated in its making, a just compensation for their work and their engagement in the book’s creation.

For the theaters the book will be useful in presenting themselves to potential partners and supporters (governmental institutions, NGOs, foreign theaters, etc.). Theaters will also be able to give books to schools and cultural centers with whom they collaborate.

Finally, the distribution of Acting Out helps to spread the word about the flourishing, but little-known Palestinian culture.

And if we pass this second level of funding?

All additional funds will be distributed directly to Palestinian theatres.

For over a year now, like theaters world-wide, Palestinian theater companies have been unable to perform publicly, depriving them of needed revenue in the context of an already fragile economy.

Acting Out is alive with a spirit of deep solidarity, reciprocity, and mutual respect. It is more than just a book; it is a collective work demonstrating that the struggle for peace is also carried out on the fields of art and education.

In these troubled times it is more than ever clear that culture is essential to our lives.

 

A maquette of the book has been developed with our designer, Stephanie Verrier to demonstrate to potential editors the spirit with which we want it to be physically configured. We have also insisted that it be printed on paper of a quality which will highlight the work of the 26 theaters through the photographs.

Thanks to the journalist Laurent Lefebvre, who created this site, this maquette will allow you to discover the book before its first printing, to which we hope you will contribute.

Between 2011 and 2014 I worked with three Palestinian theater companies on their French tours. Each time I was fascinated to see the way in which they appropriated the spaces in which they were to perform (often far from what would be considered a theater) and to create within them in just a few hours, another world–another reality...

Captivated by the magic of Palestinian theater I decided to go to Palestine and learn more.

During two long visits in the fall of 2015 and 2016, I traveled from city to city, seeking to capture Palestinian theater in photographs and interviews with actors, actresses, directors and theater managers. The words of my 50 interviewees became the central focus of the book. It is through the words of the Palestinians themselves that the reality and the force of Palestinian theater can be put before us. In the course of my interviews four themes emerged:

In the mainstream media the violent and dramatic images of the Israeli occupation are predominant. Palestinian culture is so little understood that its very existence is often ignored. Yet, there is a thriving culture in Palestine fed by diverse and complex sources. Theaters play the same essential role as they do in societies throughout the world, both as vehicles for expressing traditional values and ideals, and as forums for presenting new ideas and new human relationships.

 

If you love theater, then its magic is not unknown to you...

But there is more to it than that with Palestinians...

Because to live under an occupation is to live a false situation, an altered reality. Palestinian men and women play the roles of unreal people–Palestinians exiled from their lands, refugees and homeless in their own homeland. They live their lives as if they were in endless rehearsals, never sure that they will be able to carry out their daily tasks.

This situation is felt in the creative energy of the theater troupes, in the force of their expression, and in their capacity to influence society, incarnating its ideals, encouraging personal relations, and presenting difficult situations in a way which incites reflection.

Education for peace and the theater as a tool for change and a preparation for the future, was a common theme in almost all of the interviews I undertook. To quote Rami Khader of the Diyar Academy for Children and Youth in Bethlehem,

My aim is that you come and see children full of life, who are able to change their status quo–who are able to change the future. Because then we are feeding people–misery will not feed people's hope, will not feed people's creativity.”

And from Fadi Al-Ghoul fo Safar Theater in Ramallah,

If you want to make changes, you have to start with children. I believed then, and still do believe, that with theatre we can change people, we can change our culture, we can change our future. It is like education.”

Acting Out was developed–grew out of the strong relationships built upon an exchange and a sharing of personal experiences with Palestinian artists. This is not a humanitarian or charitable project with all that that implies; “we give, and they receive.” This is not my ethic and certainly not what I experienced in Palestine.

 

Acting Out is a mine of information on a little-studied subject. We are delighted to be able to contribute to the beginning of what we hope will be a meeting, a dialogue, an exchange between you and Palestinian artists. You are curious to discover their art, their lives, their convictions? Know that they too, have the same curiosity about us and our different cultures.

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