After last summer’s hugely successful summer camp, the participants were invited to join ongoing theatre workshops. “We are running two workshops a week with different age groups. The commitment from the children and youth is inspiring”, says Alaa Shehada, one of the trainers who is a graduate of The Freedom Theatre School.
The summer camp was an initial introduction to theatre that was very playful, and stage two builds on that foundation. The aim is to expand the participant’s imagination and everything that is done in the workshops is imbedded within storytelling techniques. “Many of the children base their stories on their reality – Palestine, life under occupation, etc. We want to play with the idea that we can make this space into what we want. We can dream about anything here”, says Natalie Quatermass, who is volunteering with The Freedom Theatre.
Ahmad Tobasi, coordinator of the Child & Youth theatre project, adds: “These children have such a need for play. This is the place where they feel they can be free, to play, to imagine. Our challenge is to take that energy and transform it into something that we can create together.”
At the end of the term, relatives of the participants will be invited to see their children perform, thereby introducing the idea of theatre to the families as well.
“The summer camp was play and fun, now we start to feel the seriousness of our work”, says Jamal, who explains why he joined the group: “I was bored with just hanging around in my neighbourhood, I wanted to learn something new. I love being here and I wish I could come every day. I learn about acting but I also learn many other things. For example, I learned not to throw rubbish on the street, and I do the same at school now.”
Even though The Freedom Theatre has offered activities for children throughout its existence, this is the first time that the theatre is able to offer a long-term, coherent program for small children.
“Our dream is to have a special place for children and youth where we can offer activities and where they feel at home”, says Ahmad Tobasi. “As a theatre we want to work with people from when they are children, nurturing the joyfulness and freedom that children have within them.”