In our upcoming production Math Exam, opening on January 9, 2016, there are two new actors working with The Freedom Theatre for the first time.

Malak Abu Gharbieh from Aram just outside of Jerusalem is 22 years old. She plays the mother of Kareem, the main character in Math Exam.

Malak is a graduate of the Drama Academy in Ramallah. It has been her dream to be an actress ever since she was very young. “When I was 12 I travelled to Syria and there I saw a play with a famous actor, Duraid Laham. I still remember him telling me that I had to be an actress. I actually don’t want to do anything else in life.”

Before Malak came to The Freedom Theatre, she had a quite bad impression of the theatre, “especially because it’s in a refugee camp”. But working at the theatre changed that. “I’m very happy I made the decision to come to Jenin. I love the structure of work here, the respect among the people in the theatre. I don’t think there is any other place like this in Palestine.”

About the director of the play, Ahmad Al Rokh who makes his directorial debut with Math Exam, Malak says: “I wish I could work all my life with people like Rokh. His method of directing is exactly how I want to work. This is the first time I act in a play like this, I have experience of working in television. This play has made me understand the meaning and importance of details.”

Malak thinks the children will love the play. “They will all think they are in their own home and they will relate to their own lives.“

Khaleel Al Batran plays the father in Math Exam. He is originally from Hebron and has studied at the Drama Academy in Ramallah. He is also studying music with Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.

For Khaleel, the road to theatre was not as straight as for Malak. “After finishing school I worked, for the same reasons as everyone else: to get money to build my own life, to get married, etc. But it wasn’t for me. I wanted to travel to Egypt to be in films and become famous – to see myself on posters everywhere. I learned about the drama academy and decided to apply.”

Khaleel didn’t know much about The Freedom Theatre before he began working on Math Exam. “When I heard about the play and realised the theatre was in Jenin refugee camp, I immediately thought of shooting and noise”, Khaleel says with a smile.

Khaleel says he is surprised that not more people in Palestine know about the theatre. “I think The Freedom Theatre is the Palestinian theatre that works the hardest, and especially for the rights of children. I hope all people will hear the great message from the theatre.”

This is the first play for Khaleel after graduating. He says that the method of work here is different than at the academy. “I learn a lot as an actor. The role is difficult, I changed the character twice and now I feel like it has come alive.”

Khaleel believes that the two children in the play, Aus and Jamal, are both great actors. “They improvise a lot, which makes me a bit nervous but as the father character I can guide them through the play. I’m very happy to work with children.”

Khaleel doesn’t see Math Exam as a play for children only. “I think this play is for everyone. It talks about problems in the education system, in the public schools especially and mainly in the villages and the refugee camps. It also talks about issues in the homes and the families.”

Read more about Math Exam.