Interview with Iranian/Australian Writer & Actor Osamah Sami by Kyriaki Maragozidis. Originally broadcast 13/6/16 Live to Air on Voiceprint Arts, Three D Radio 93.7fm in South Australia.
Interview with Iranian/Australian Writer & Actor Osamah Sami by Kyriaki Maragozidis. Originally broadcast 13/6/16 Live to Air on Voiceprint Arts, Three D Radio 93.7fm in South Australia.
“Tales of a City by the Sea’ is a perceptive story that magnificently captures the drama of star-crossed lovers in the besieged Gaza strip.”
In Daily – Adelaide’s independent news
This is wide-eyed saga of everyday Palestinians struggling to survive and find normality, hope and love in a region affected by hostility. It is an oddly poetic tale, whose complexity and subtleties of differing narrative viewpoint are maintained by axioms, a strong multi-cultural ensemble and superb lead performances.
Samah Sabawi’s script has received widespread acclaim for its insight into Palestinian life. The playwright’s remarkable sensitivity and artistry confers enormous authority on this portrayal of a beleaguered people.
The play focuses on Jomana (Helena Sawires), a Palestinian woman living in a refugee camp, and depicts life under the Israeli bombardment and siege. She is chaperone to her cousin Lama (Emina Ashman), who is unhappily engaged to Ali (Reece Vella).
When Rami (Osamah Sami), an American-born Palestinian doctor, arrives on the “Free Gaza” boats in August 2008, he and Jomana fall in love. When it is time to leave, Rami promises to sell his clinic in America and return to Jomana and his ancestral homeland.
The play gives us a prophetic flavour of the way people can culturally, politically, ideologically and physically be separated. There are sharp, pertinent scenes in which the lovers speak over Skype and renew their promises. But will the pair live happily ever after?
This play stands or falls by its love affair between the thoroughly decent Texan doctor, Rami, and the poetically romantic Jomana. And this love affair has all the passion of desperate people in desperate times and precarious situations. Sawires is well cast; she puts presence into every scene and bounces well off Sami, who brilliantly portrays an American caught between multiple loyalties. Read more…
by Julia Wakefield
Following its sold out premiere Melbourne season in 2014, Tales of a City by the Sea opened at The Bakehouse Theatre this week. The author is Palestinian/Australian/Canadian writer Samah Sabawi. She describes her work as ‘a poetic journey into the ordinary lives of people living in abnormal circumstances and their struggle to survive’.
The play grew out of a collection of poetry that Sabawi wrote while she was in Gaza during the three week bombardment of 2008/2009, prompted by her own experiences and those of her friends and family. She says she is not trying to put across a political message. Although this is a story based on real life events that took place during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008, its main purpose is to highlight the resilience and compassion that people display in such dire circumstances. In this current era of global conflict and confusion, there are many places featured in news bulletins that are enduring similar situations. Sabawi wants us to see ‘the detail of daily lives of people they see for brief seconds on the news’.
The play was originally directed by Lech Mackiewicz, and the current director is Wahibe Moussa. When it opened in Melbourne the plan was to have two simultaneous performances on the West Bank and in Gaza. The play was performed on the West Bank a week later; the script has been read in Gaza but as yet there has been no opportunity to perform the play there.
In the main characters of the play, Jomana and Rami, we see another theme: the gulf between the Palestinian diaspora (those whose families escaped from Gaza and who have grown up in an affluent, privileged society), and the same generation who remain trapped in Gaza. Jomana lives in Gaza, Rami is a doctor raised in Texas by refugee Palestinian parents. They are in love, but in order to enter each other’s world they have no choice but to abandon their families and the reality they grew up in.
The play ideally suits the intimate atmosphere of the Bakehouse Theatre. Scenes are evoked with the simplest of props, and Sabawi’s poetry slips seamlessly into the characters’ dialogue, serving to highlight emotional moments. In some places it appears as a passionate soliloquy, as in Rami’s heart rending speech “what price a life?” But it is also there in the play’s frequent humorous moments, such as the Dr Zeuss style banter that Rami exchanges with his mother. This reference to a familiar Western poetic style serves to emphasize the gap between Rami’s and Jomana’s upbringing. We realise that Rami, in spite of his heritage, has more experience in common with the audience than he has with Jomana. The contrast is cleverly portrayed in a particularly riveting scene where Jomana is conversing with her father in Gaza, while Rami is simultaneously speaking to his mother in Texas, on either side of a dining table.. Read more
The Barefoot Review
Where there is a wall, there is also a city its inhabitants call home in the sacred and emotional way expected of communities deeply attached to their history and culture; especially those coping with just over half a century of war in all its guises and forms, greater or lesser, challenging their right to exist.
Samah Sabawi’s Tales of a City by The Sea is poetically beautiful, discerning and honest in its examination of life in Gaza.
No angry, politicised, locked in sensationalism to be found here, despite what has been said of this work during 2016. Sabawi’s play is an astutely balanced, modern appraisal of what it means to live as a Palestinian under siege. Read more…
Adelaide Theatre Guide
June 11, 2016
This is a tale of conflict and survival told principally through the stories of two couples during the 2008 Gaza war.
Jomana (Helen Sawires) is a Palestinian journalist in Gaza who meets American born Palestinian doctor, Rami, (Osamah Sami) who arrives on board one of small boats that breaks the Israeli blockade.
Ali (Reece Vella) and Lama (Emina Ashman) are residents of Gaza. He loves her but she’s unsure whether to marry him or not.
The play traces the development of these two relationships amid the death and destruction that is everyday life in Gaza.
Samah Sabawi has created a potent narrative that brims with raw examples of the reality of living under a hostile authority. She explores relationships and family values in a place where people fight to retain some sense of normality amid the daily death toll; where “funerals and weddings have become part of daily life”. Read more
We come from diverse backgrounds including Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Malta, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, Bengal, India, Chile and the UK. We have people of various faiths including the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. Our play is a celebration of the power of inclusivity and a testimony to breaking down cultural and racial barriers!
Writer Samah Sabawi
Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian Australian Canadian playwright, commentator and poet. Her plays Cries From The Land and Three Wishes had successful runs in Canada; Tales Of A City By The Sea enjoyed a sold-out season at La Mama in 2014 and an Arabic premiere at Alrowwad’s Cultural Theater Society in Palestine, and was selected for the 2016 VCE Drama Playlist. Sabawi’s poems feature in WITH OUR EYES WIDE OPEN (West End Press 2014), GAZA UNSILENCED (Just World Books 2015) and I REMEMBER MY NAME (Novum Publishing 2016). She is co-editor of DOUBLE EXPOSURE: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas (Playwrights Canada Press 2016).
Original Direction Lech Mackiewicz
Lech Mackiewicz is a Polish director, playwright, and actor. He formed Auto Da Fe Theatre Company in Sydney in 1987. He specialises in creating intercultural collaborative performance, having directed theatre in Poland, Japan, China, Korea, and Australia. Lech’s directing credits include: Felliniana (Belvoir St Theatre); King Lear (Playbox Theatre); Kafka Tanczy (Teatr Zydowski); Beckett in Circles (Suzuki Company of Toga); An Oak Tree (Teatr Wegierki); The Hour Before My Brother Dies (Teatr Jaracza); and Everyman and the Pole Dancers (Metanoia Theatre). He is a graduate of the National Academy of Theatrical Arts (PWST) in Cracow, and the University of Technology Sydney.
2016 Remount Direction Wahibe Moussa
Wahibe Moussa is an award-winning performance maker, and writer. In 2007, Wahibe received the Green Room Award for her role as “Mahala” in Theatre @ Risk’s production of Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul. In 2014 she was one of ten dramaturgy interns at Melbourne Theatre Company, a Playwriting Australia Fellowship initiative. Wahibe’s practice is informed by her own experiences as a migrant child, her collaborations with Refugee Artists, and a commitment to understanding Indigenous performance and story making practices. This is Wahibe’s directorial debut.
Producer and Set Design Lara Week
Lara Week is a designer for performance and creative producer. Her design credits include: NaGL: Not a Good Look (Metanoia Theatre), Between Heaven and Her (La Mama Theatre), and The Conference of the Birds (Centre for Cultural Partnerships). Since 2011, she has been associate producer for Tribal Soul Arts, producing decolonial arts programs and performances in Africa, Europe, and Australia. She is dedicated to creating spaces where people with different skills and perspectives can share ideas and produce work together.
Lighting Design Shane Grant
Shane Grant has been Audio Visual Technician for St Kevin’s College for the past nine years. Previously, he was Production Manager with Strange Fruit and Technical Manager at Gasworks Theatre. Shane is an accomplished lighting designer having worked extensively with companies like Ranters Theatre, The Torch Project, NYID, La Mama and many others. Shane has a BA Dramatic Arts (Production) VCA from 1994. He sits on the Green Room Awards Association Theatre Companies Panel. Shane is currently an artistic director at Metanoia Theatre and the Technical Manager of the Mechanics Institute theatre in Brunswick.
Sound Design Khaled Sabsabi
Khaled Sabsabi works across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging media based experiences. He is a socially-engaged artist who specialises in multimedia and site-specific installations that often involve people on the margins of society. Khaled has worked in detention centres, schools, prisons, refugee camps, settlements, hospitals and youth centres, in the Australian and broader international context. Khaled makes work that is in continual transfer from the physical to the philosophical, to interconnect the interrelatedness and cycles of life.
Sound Mixer Max Schollar-Root
From his roots in The Australian Theatre for Young People and the NSW Performing Arts Unit State Drama Ensemble, Max Schollar-Root found his passion in musical performance and composition while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He works as a band leader with Ungus Ungus Ungus, a theatrical and multi-modal performance project combining live music, technology, and dance, presenting nationally at large-scale festivals. As a Registered Music Therapist trained at The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music he runs early childhood music programs and works with adults with intellectual disabilities.
Production/Stage Manager Hayley Fox
Hayley Fox gained a Bachelor of Creative Industries majoring in Theatre at QUT (2005) and a Master of Arts in Writing at Swinburne University (2010). Her most recent stage management credits include: Werther and The Spanish Hour with the Lyric Opera of Melbourne; The Road to Woodstock and An Evening with Sarah Vaughan for Neil Cole; Diva Power Regional Tour for Arts Events Australia; Wuthering Heights with the Australian Shakespeare Company; and In Between Two at the Sydney Festival for Performance4a.
Assistant Stage Manager James Crafti
James Crafti is excited to be working on Tales of a City by the Sea as it combines two of his passions: theatre and Palestine. On the former James has directed a variety of plays such as Mutha, The Deserters, Rope, Creationism and Seven Jewish Children. He was also an assistant director on Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime. James has also been an organiser with Campaign Against Israeli Apartheid, Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Jews Against Israeli Apartheid.
Producer Daniel Clarke
Daniel Clarke has worked in Australia, the UK and US as a theatre director, producer and artistic director. He is has recently taken on the role of Programmer, Performing Arts at Arts Centre Melbourne, after five fulfilling years as CEO and Creative Producer of Theatre Works, St Kilda. Daniel was the Artistic Director of Feast in 2007 and 2008, winning the prestigious Arts SA Ruby Award for Community Impact. He has also worked for Leicester Haymarket Theatre Company as Creative Producer/Associate Artist and was awarded the 2015 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award Facilitators Prize.
Helana Sawires – Jomana
From a large, creative Egyptian family, Helana Sawires has always lived within the realm of the arts. Early on Helana developed a love for percussion, very much influenced by her father. Since graduating from Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (2011), Helana’s projects include: Short and Sweet Theatre Festival; Banana Boy (upcoming short); and W.O.W Casula Kid’s Festival (storyteller/drumming workshop). Helana landed her first major film role in 2015 in Ali’s Wedding (Matchbox Pictures). She was accepted into the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC (2014), completing a Chekhov Intensive Course, which further influenced her unique expression across all forms of art.
Osamah Sami – Rami
Osamah Sami is a failed cricketer and a struggling Muslim. His memoir Good Muslim Boy was Highly Commended at the Victorian Premiere’s Literary Awards. He also co-wrote Ali’s Wedding, Australia’s first Muslim Rom-Com, and co-created the Web Series Two Refugees and a Blonde. Lead roles in films include Ali’s Wedding, Journey, 10 Terrorists! and Saved. TV roles include: Kick, East West 101, Rush, Sea Patrol, City Homicide and Jack Irish. He has performed at Belvoir St, MTC, La Mama and a dozen independent houses. His role as “Amor” in MTC’s I Call My Brothers earned him a Green Room nomination for Best Lead Actor.
Emina Ashman – Lama
Emina is a Malaysian born actor, dancer and theatre-maker. Before relocating to Australia (2012), her theatre credits in Kuala Lumpur include Beasts and Beauties, Lysistrata and Fragments. As a 2014 VCA graduate, her credits include Agamemnon, The Three Sisters, The Little Prince and Plus Sign Attached (with Living Positive Victoria). Emina played “Julie Bishop” in Lucky Country (Melbourne Fringe 2014). Last year, she read the role of “Christine” in Michele Lee’s Moths for MTC. She also played “Antonia D’Agostino” in the sell-out season of Adam Cass’s Bock Kills Her Father (La Mama, Melbourne Fringe 2015). She has recently completed a diploma in creative writing, specialising in writing for performance and poetry.
Reece Vella – Ali
Reece Vella graduated from The Actors College of Theatre and Television in Sydney (2010) and has been acting professionally for the past six years. Check out his Star now if you are into name-dropping. He harbours a passion for new, eccentric and challenging work. Since moving to Melbourne, Reece’s stage credits include: Everyman and The Pole Dancers; Tales of a City by the Sea; Between Heaven and Her; and most recently Night Sings Its Songs. Reece is elated and moved that a remount of Tales of a City by the Sea has taken life, confirming his everlasting hope in stories of humanity.
Alex Pinder – Abu Ahmed
Alex Pinder works as an actor and theatre director. Recent credits at La Mama include performing in Waiting For Godot (as “Lucky”) and In the Middle of the Night and Other Stories, and directing Buzo’s Norm and Ahmed. Other work includes directing a reading of In The Day I left Home by Raahma N Kalsie, for MTC NEON 2015 and MTC Cybec 2016, playing “Page” in The Merry Wives of Windsor at 45 Downstairs and Perth’s Fortune Theatre, and “Howard” in The Dead Twin.
Rebecca Morton – Samira
Rebecca Morton has been singing and acting all around Australia for longer than she cares to admit, from opera to music theatre to Shakespeare and Noel Coward with state theatre companies. She writes and tours highly portable, one act music theatre shows, and recently joined Alchemy 7, a group of artists who create a fusion of sculpture and song. She is also working with a new company, RAPt, which connects people through theatre. She is absolutely delighted and proud to be part of this very exciting and important play.
Cara Whitehouse – Multiple Roles
Classically trained, Cara Whitehouse has played roles in children’s puppetry to the Greeks, working in Melbourne and Singapore. Recent work includes Tales of a City by the Sea (La Mama 2014), Remember M with innātum Theatre, The Woman in the Window, and “Elektra” in The Oresteia. Cara’s film work includes multiple shorts with a web series in development. A certified Fitzmaurice Voicework teacher, Cara’s training encompasses Conservatory Actor training at Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore, Knight-Thompson speech work (NYC) and continued training at the Howard Fine Acting Studio.
Aseel Tayah – Singer
Aseel Tayah is a creative director, art producer and installation artist. She has been part of number of theatre productions at the Malthouse, Platform, La Mama, Polyglot and Metanoia Theatres, together with her own art works that have been displayed prominently in Palestine and Australia. She travels around the world to discover, photograph and be inspired by people’s cultures and histories. She creates interactive experiences that invite audiences to participate through her design of space, and the presence of her body and voice.
Ubaldino Mantelli – Multiple Roles
Ubaldino was in the 2014 Melbourne premiere of Tales of a City by the Sea at La Mama. He’s played major theatrical roles in the Geelong region, including performing for the National Trust and in the ensemble-devised Daylight Savings, led by James Pratt. Ubaldino trained under Kerreen Ely-Harper, Stephen Costan, Jenny Lovell, Danielle Carter, Karen Davitt and Nicky Fearn in the VCA Acting Studio 12. He’s been a producer, presenter and performer on community radio. In 2016, Ubaldino can be seen in James Burke’s short film, Sick Home.
Poster Design and Cover Art by Ahmad Sabra and Aya El-Zinati.
To buy tickets:
Melbourne: The show will be staged at the La Mama Courthouse theatre between May 11 – May 29th. La Mama Theatre is nationally and internationally acknowledged as a crucible for cutting edge, contemporary theatre since 1967. The Courthouse is located on 349 Drummond St, Carlton. Click here to purchase tickets for Melbourne shows.
Adelaide: The show will be staged at The Bakehouse Theatre June 8th to June 18th – June 18th. The Bakehouse is a charming, intimate live theatre at 255 Angas Street, near the east end (Hutt Street). Click here to purchase tickets for Adelaide shows.
Sydney: The show will run at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula. There will only be two performances scheduled for August 3rd. Click here to purchase tickets for Sydney shows.
Excerpt from interview:
“The recent total devastation of Gaza made putting on this play all the more important for us in the West Bank and in Melbourne. What happened in Gaza a couple of months ago is something that is far worst than ever before. It was an attempt at the destruction of life in a way that Palestinians haven’t experienced since 1948, since the original ethnic cleansing of Palestine began….We were casting just toward the end of that and it was surreal and sad and for me it was heartbreaking because I really wanted to bring this brand of art to Gaza…it was my love letter to Gaza in a way…I went there two years ago and we staged a reading and I vowed that the play will premier in Gaza before anywhere else but I can see that this dream will have to be put on hold for now…”
Click on video below to hear the full interview.
مسرحية حكايات مدينة على البحر تبدأ في ملبورن في الثاني عشر من تشرين الثاني نوفمبر. المسرحية عبارة عن قصة حب وانفصال وستعرض على خشبة مسرحين في اليوم ذاته. على خشبة مسرح لاماما في ملبورن، ومسرح الرواد في مخيم عايدة في الضفة الغربية.
كاتبة المسرحية هي الكاتبة والشاعرة سماح السبعاوي، وقد استضفناها في استديوهات الأس بي سي مع اثنين من فريق العمل. استمعوا هنا إلى سماح السبعاوي، والممثلة نيكول شمعون والممثل أسامة سامي.
Playwright and producer Samah Sabawi
Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian writer and commentator. She has travelled the world and lived in its far corners, yet always felt as though she was still trapped in her place of birth Gaza. The war torn besieged and isolated strip has shaped her understanding of her identity and her humanity. So what else could Sabawi do but to indulge in Gaza’s overwhelming presence and to succumb to tell the stories.
Samah Sabawi is co-author of the book Journey to Peace in Palestine and writer and producer of the plays Cries from the Land and Three Wishes, both were successfully staged in Canada in 2003 and 2008. Sabawi’s writings have appeared in various media outlets including AlJazeera English, AlAhram, The Globe and Mail, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and many others. Her poetry has been featured in various magazines and books, most recently in an anthology published by West End Press titled With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century. Samah Sabawi is currently co-editing an anthology of plays for the Playwrights Canada Press, Canada’s major publisher and distributor of Canadian drama. Her recent play Tales of a City by the Sea will be published as part of the anthology in early 2016.
Co-producer and actor Majid Shokor
Majid has been acting for over 25 years. He also directed whilst teaching drama in Lebanon for four years and has written his own works. He has won many awards in his home country of Iraq and has been a member of the Iraqi National Theatre Company and a long-time member of the Iraqi Theatre Artists Syndicate.
Since arriving in Australia in September 2001, Majid has appeared in many plays in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide including, Kan Yama Kan directed by Robin Laurie. Getting in directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon, Subclass26A directed by Bagryana Popov at 45 Downstaires for which he got Green Room Best Actor Award nomination 2005, Carrying Shoes Into The Unknown at LaMam, Homebody /Kabul by Tony Kushner directed by Chris Bendal , Theatre@ risk company and The Cove season, 8 short plays by Daniel Keen and directed by Matt Scholton presented at the Dog Theatre, for which he got another Green Room Best Actor Award nomination 2009.
Majid was also seen at Belvoir St Theatre in The Cool Room which was presented by Performing Lines and In Our Name, a play Written and directed by Nigel Jamieson and was presented by company B. His screen credits include a guest role in City Homicide and an actor and cultural consultant in the feature film Lucky Miles.
Majid holds a Master degree in Community Cultural Development with honor degree from VCA / Melbourne University.
Director Lech Mackiewicz
Lech directed theatre in Poland, Korea, Japan and Australia, so his understanding of cross-cultural undertaking is based on first hand experience. In Japan Lech worked with the Japanese actors and creatives for Suzuki Company Of Toga and for ACM Mito. His work was seen at a number of international theatre festivals in Japan: Nagoya, Tokyo, Toga. Last year Lech worked on a bilingual co-production of Cho Cho by Daniel Keene for the National China Theatre and Melbourne Arts Centre. In Australia Lech co-founded Auto Da Fe Theatre Company with 2 NIDA graduates Justin Monjo and Jaime Robertson in 1987. In the 1990ies Lech received 3 individual grants from the Australia Council for Arts. He is also the 1991 winner of a New South Wales Performing Arts Scholarship.
Graduate of the National State Academy of Theatre in Cracow (Poland) in 1983, and from UTS Sydney in 1987. Directing secondment with the Moscow Arts Theatre 1991. His directing credits include: KING LEAR for Playbox ( Melbourne) touring nationally and to Japan and Korea, THE HOUR BEFORE MY BROTHER DIES for Jaracza Theatre (Poland), KRAPP’S LAST TAPE for Auto Da Fe Theatre Co. (Poland, Australia, Japan) FELLINIADA (Belvoir. St. Theatre). SO CALLED K. for Mito Acting Company ( Japan), BECKETT IN CIRCLES for Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT; Japan), AN OAK TREE for Teatr Wegierki (Poland), NaGL for Teatr Auto Da Fe ( Sydney) DITTO.A STORY ( La Mama Melbourne), KAFKA TANCZY for Teatr Zydowski (Warsaw) and most recently EVERYMAN & THE POLE DANCERS at Metanoia Theatre (Melbourne).
Given his experience as an actor and director who has lived and worked in Europe, Japan and Australia, Lech’s theatre-writing displays the space required for collaborative expression and the ambiguity to allow diverse cultural readings. “What marks this work as arresting and worth attending is the cultural prism that the writer and director, Lech Mackiewicz, “a Polish artist immigrant”, brings to this exercise of his view of living in Australia in 2010. At least I found it so – a provocative experience to take on board on several different levels: Content and style at least two of those levels, consciously (in time the subconscious, perhaps). Kevin Jackson’s Theatre Diary. On NaGL
Assistant Director Izabella Mackiewicz
Izabella studied acting and theatre at the National Academy Of Theatre in Cracow (Poland) and UNSW in Sydney (Australia).
She collaborated with Lech Mackiewicz on a number of projects. Her most recent theatre credits include: NaGL (Auto Da Fe Theatre ;Sydney), Milobojcy (Teatr Nowy Zabrze; Poland), Ditto (La Mama; Melbourne), The Author ( Teatr Siemaszkowej Rzeszow; Poland), Skierniewicer ( Poland). She also appeared in some feature films and translated plays for theatre from English to Polish.
Nicole is thrilled to be making her theatre debut here at La Mama in this beautiful production. Since starring as ‘Layla’, in the SBS series ‘kick’ (2007), Nicole has gone on to appear in many television series such as ‘city homicide’ & feature films Including ’10 terrorists’ (2012) & ‘Last Dance’ (2013). Stay tuned to see Nicole in an upcoming feature film, titled ‘Be Less Beautiful’, starring alongside the talented Osamah Sami. Nicole is currently studying at The Melbourne Actors Lab under the guidance of Peter Kalos.
Osamah is a failed cricketer, struggling actor–writer–director and floundering comedian. Born in war-torn Iran to half-Kurdish, half-Iraqi parents and escaping to call Australia home have moulded him into a confused soul. It is a miracle he’s still entrusted to perform on stage. Credits include Sinners, Long Day’s Dying, Blackbox 149, Two Executioners (La Mamma); Baghdad Wedding (Belvoir St.); The Container; Homebody/Kabul (Big West) and Saddam the Musical, which saw him deported from the U.S. (his name, ‘Osama’ and barracking for the ‘Bombers’ were contributing factors).
He played lead roles in films Saved (opposite Claudia Karvan) and 10 Terrorists! TV shows include Kick, City Homicide, East West 101, Sea Patrol & Rush. Contrary to popular belief, he has played a terrorist only twice. Osamah also created an 8-episode sitcom for SBS (Baghdad to the Burbs) and has written a vague number of plays and short films. His memoir ‘Good Muslim Boy’, published by Hardie Grants, will be released in May 2015. He is currently working on two feature films and being a better father.
Emily was born and raised in Melbourne and has been passionate about acting and singing from a young age. Her first theatre experience was in primary school – performing in both the schools improvisational group and choir ensemble – which sparked her passion for the arts. Since then she has continued her training at Musical Theatre school Showfit, Melbourne Actors Lab and The Rehearsal Room, and has appeared in various T.V shows such as Offspring, web-series, short-films, adverts and feature films around Melbourne. She is also recording an album of original music with producer Lee Bradshaw, which she is excited to release later this year. Emily is thrilled to be joining the cast of The Tales Of A City By The Sea this season, and looks forward to sharing this story with you all.
Wahibe is a performance-maker, writer and Green-Room award winning actor. She has gained respect as a Cultural/Language Consultant in theatre and television. She creates short fiction, poetry and performance where the personal is political, exploring the exchange of power within human relationships. Wahibe’s practice is informed by her own experiences as a migrant child, her collaborations with Refugee Artists and a commitment to understanding Indigenous performance and story making practices. Her solo performances and writing speaks to contemporary social experience, utilising spoken word and movement with audio-visual and sculptural elements: TIME PIECE (Immigration Museum 2002) TOUCH(DON’T)TOUCH (2000), SOME KIND OF LOVE (2010), BREATH OF GOD (2012).
As an actor Wahibe has been seen on television and in independent theatre productions. In 2007, Wahibe received the Green Room Award for Female Actor in an Independent Production, for her role as Mahala in Theatre @ Risk’s 2007 production of Tony Kushner‘s Homebody/Kabul.
As a Community Artist, Wahibe worked collaboratively in Community Theatre, Visual Art and Writing Projects in Melbourne and Sydney. Projects include THE TORCH (on its Shepparton tour in 2001), which led to drama and leadership workshops for young Australian Muslim women In Shepparton and Melbourne. Wahibe toured Australian Capitals with Medicen Sans Frontiere as a Storyteller, retelling the stories of six Refugees from Africa, Chechnya, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. BETWEEN MEMORY AND HOPE: TEARS FOR THE FUTURE, The Iraqi Women’s Quilt and Story Project (2003-2005) where women shared their experiences under Saddam Hussein and then at the hands of the Australian Government, in textile art creating panels for 5 Quilts and a companion book. These quilts have been constantly touring Australian cities and towns ever since.
In 2009 Wahibe founded “Writer’s Nest“, for writers interested in exploring new territories and expanding known ground. She completed her Master of Writing for Performance 2012. In 2013 she received a Hot Desk Fellowship From the Wheeler Centre spending ten weeks writing and researching a new performance piece, In The Garden. Currently she is one of ten Dramaturgy Interns, a Playwriting Australia Fellowship initiative with MTC. Wahibe continues her online collaboratIon with German sound artist, Somer Abbas Yacoub.
Aseel is a vocalist and installation artists. She considers herself a non-traditional Arab Muslim girl. Born in Jerusalem she was raised a proud Palestinian by her parents in Qalanswa, Palestine. Torn between sustaining her identity and being forced to assimilate by a suppressive Israeli occupation of Palestine Aseel was forced to live the Palestinian Israeli conflict in her daily life. The result was that Aseel grew stronger, wanting to drive the changes she seeks to see in the world. Aseel seeks education through Art. She graduateed from the collage of arts with honour. Her art focuses on women rights, society & national identity.
Reece Graduated from The Actors College of Theatre and TV in Sydney in 2010, Reece Vella has been acting professionally for the past four years, gaining experience while working with the likes of Lech Machiewicz, Lex Marinos and Mario Philip Azzopardi. With a passion for new work his latest endeavors have been the world premier of “Il- Kappillan ta’ Malta” in July 2014 performed in Malta in Maltese, based on the English best selling novel by Nicholas Monsarrat and most recently performing in “Everyman and the Pole Dancers” in October 2014 at Metanoia Theatre under the Auto Da Fe company. Reece is delighted to be performing for the second time at La Mama since he holds this place close to his heart for its unquantifiable artistic and historical Australian value.
Ubaldino is a relative newcomer to acting and performing. Since 2009, he has played major roles in community theatre in the Geelong region (Oscar Wilde in Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, ‘Mario’ in Miller’s A View From The Bridge, ‘Cripple Billy’ in McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, ‘The Actor’ in Mallatratt’s The Woman In Black, Dr Treves in The Elephant Man, ‘Bill Sykes’ in Oliver!). He has performed in several plays written and directed by Doug Mann for the National Trust and has undergone regular workshops and training, including the VCA’s Acting Studio 12. Ubaldino has been a producer and presenter on community radio and recently performed in Richard Kakol’s Vision Australia radio play, The Infinite Hotel. In 2013, Ubaldino performed in Daylight Savings, an ensemble-devised production led by James Pratt at Courthouse Arts. Ubaldino is the tallest member of his family band, The Mantelli Five.
Cara is an actor, singer and voice teacher. Following graduation of her BA (Hons) Acting at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore she worked in children’s puppetry theatre and at the Singapore Arts Festival. Cara is a certified Fitzmaurice Voicework™ teacher and continues training in Knight-Thompson Speechwork this December in New York. She also continues her acting training at the Howard Fine Studio. Favourite credits include: Medea, Elektra, Macbeth, Conference of the Birds, Visible Cities, One More Year and The Wonderful World of Dissocia. Cara is excited to be making her La Mama debut in such an important, currently relevant story.
Set Designer Lara Week
Lara is a Melbourne-based producer and designer for performance. Her background includes co-creating monthly community music event Deja in her home city of Sydney; leading play-building workshops for children with Galli Theatre, Berlin; making costumes for a children’s program in the Israeli Opera; and working with children in a youth club for refugees in Tel Aviv. Since 2011, Lara has been associate producer for Tribal Soul Arts, producing community programs and original performances in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Netherlands, UK, and Australia. In 2013, Lara completed her PG Dip in Performance Creation (Design) at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her design credits include: The Conference of the Birds (Centre for Cultural Partnerships), The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden (VCA School of Drama), A Feat Incomplete (Old 505 Theatre), and Just Looking (VCA School of Dance). She is dedicated to creating spaces where people with different skills and perspectives can share ideas and produce work together.
Lighting Designer Shane Grant
Shane has been Audio Visual Technician for St Kevins College for the past 8 years. Prior to that he was Production Manager with Strange Fruit for 6 years and Technical Manager at Gasworks Theatre for 4 years. Shane is an accomplished lighting designer having worked extensively with companies like Ranters Theatre, The Torch Project, NYID and many others. Shane has a BA Dramatic Arts (Production) VCA from 1994. Shane is currently a company director of Metanoia Theatre and the technical manager of the mechanics institute theatre in Brunswick.
Sound Designer Khaled Sabsabi
Khaled works across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging media based experiences. I’m a socially-engaged artist who specialises in multimedia and site-specific installations that often involve people on the margins of society. I have worked in detention centres, schools, prisons, refugee camps, settlements, hospitals and youth centres, in the Australian and broader international context. I’m interested in the individual and what defines humans, our experiences, anxieties and uncertainties. I make work that questions; rationales and complexities of nationhood and identity. I also make work that is in continual transfer from the physical to the philosophical, to interconnect the interrelatedness and cycles of life. www.peacefender.com
Sound Mixer Max Schollar-Root
Max has his roots in The Australian Theatre for Young People and the NSW Performing Arts Unit State Drama Ensemble, Max found his passion in musical performance and composition while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has since played in many ensembles, currently works as a bandleader, tours nationally, and has produced six full-length albums. Recently he has been completing training to become a Registered Music Therapist at the University of Melbourne. Max is increasingly involved in multi-modal performance projects combining live music, technology, and dance, and is presenting this work with his group, Ungus Ungus Ungus, at music and arts festivals across Australia.
Stage Manager James O’Donoghue
James is a theatre maker and designer in his final year Performing Arts at Monash University. In 2013 James undertook a technical internship at Monash Uni Student Theatre and designed multiple productions including The Threepenny Opera, Psycho Beach Party and a contemporary dance piece In The Fires, We Weep. Further work includes stage management of Boy Out of the Country presented by Larrikin Ensemble Theatre at 45 Downstairs, stage management of Little Dances at La Mama Theatre, Stage Management for Auto De Fa’s Ditto, design of The Bloom’s Ernest, lighting secondment to Emma Valente on The Rabble’s Room of Regret, design of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Monash Shakespeare Compay, assistant design for Attic Erattic’s The City They Burned and assistant design for Passion presented at the Arts Centre this month.
Assistant Stage Manager Nada Mustafa
Nada is a Palestinian Australian, Having completed her Bachelor in Filmmaking, she went on to volunteer with Channel 31 as a floor manager for their Youth Network…she then progressed to complete an internship with Happening Films as their Production Assistant for their short film Golden Girl. She continued further study in Event Management and Public relations and continued to gain skills voluntarily as a 3rd Assistant Director for short films under Shekat Productions and has also voluntarily assisted in the Melbourne International Film Festival and Tropfest. She has organised small knit events and recently travelled to Palestine where she got to witness firsthand a slither of the daily Palestinian struggle. Upon her arrival back to Australia with her passion for all things creative and Palestine she has joined us as Assistant Stage Manager in her first role in the theatre industry that she can now add to her growing list of skills.
Photographer/videographer Ahmad Sabra
Ahmad is an Australian Muslim Lebanese multi award winning international photographer. At the age of 5 Ahmad lost his eyesight in a tragic tractor plow accident. In what at first was considered a cruel joke, a stranger gave Ahmad a camera and a roll of film. Thinking it was a gun, Ahmad would squeal and point the camera at anyone that approached. Gradually his eyesight returned and he has continued to use the camera until today but with less squealing and sharper results. ” For Ahmad’s real bio please visit his website at Www.sabraimagery.com.au
NOVEMBER 12 – NOVEMBER 23
Written by Samah Sabawi
Tickets can be booked up until 4:00 pm on the day of the performance, otherwise try your luck at the door.
Please allow plenty of time to arrive at our venues, as we have a no latecomers policy.
Friends, this week our eyes were glued to our laptops watching in disbelief yet another horrible attack on the people of Gaza. We worried about our friends, partners and loved ones. Within theTales of a City by the Sea production team we worried about our partners in Gaza, our director Ali Abu Yassin and our representative in Gaza, Aya El-Zinati. Aya is a young dynamic and talented film maker and journalist who is the epitome of the human spirit we try to convey in our play. Before the war broke out, she promised to make a new video for our project. Imagine our surprise when she sent this email yesterday with a link to the video she completed while listening to the sounds of the falling bombs outside her window. With her permission, we are proud to share her email as it offers a deep insight into life in Gaza.
Email from Aya
How are you?
I imagine this is not the right time to even talk about this but I know I have work to do. True, I’ve only slept two hours in the last three days, and I’ve been away from home most of the time but I have been thinking of you. I’ve been wondering how can I produce the video (Trailer for Tales of a City by the Sea) and what if something happens to me and I (die) before finishing it.
So, every day at dawn I try to do more edits and I don’t know but I hope this time you will like it. Please believe me I’ve tried my best to do it better than the first cut. If you don’t like it and we remain alive I will do a better one for you.
What is important is that I want to tell you a few stories we hear about the martyrs in Gaza. I want to tell you so you know what Gaza love stories are like in reality…in war… in these conditions.
On the first day when 8 people were killed, one of them was from the Qassam brigade. His name was Abdlerahman AlZamly. He was engaged to a lady, maybe you’ve seen her in some of the photos that went viral as she was saying goodbye to him. They were engaged for a long time and couldn’t get married because they were waiting for the Rafah crossing to open and for cement to come into Gaza so they can finish building their house. All they needed was one ton of cement. Of course there were no crossings open and even if they were to open and if cement came in, they may not have afforded it because it would have been five times its actual worth.
Yesterday, the Kaware family was martyred in Khan Yunis. Their house was bombed. Eight members of the family were killed and neighbours injured some have serious injuries. When I went to report it I almost had a breakdown. I told the photographer to take photos. My stomach turned. But I tried to be strong…to be normal.
Yesterday a very young man Fakhr AlAjoory was martyred on his motorcycle and the scene was horrific. Before he was martyred he wrote a status on his Facebook: ‘when I die, some will mourn me, some will feel relieved, some will remember me forever, some wont care, but that’s o.k. it is enough for me to be going to a better place’.
Last night they bombed the Hamad family. The family was sitting in their garden drinking coffee at night. The missile landed suddenly and the problem is the whole family died except for the youngest child, 5 years old, he is now orphaned and with no one left to take care of him.
My father is a maintenance engineer at the hospital and because of the emergency situation there he doesn’t come home much. I try as much as possible to check on my mom at home in between my work shifts. Anyway, as I was walking to our house, I saw lots of nervous people in the street, some were running it turned out the neighbours were told to evacuate their homes because it will be bombed in ten minutes. I ran to my mother and told her to hurry up and leave. I told her they’re bombing the house next door. The problem is if a missile lands next door our entire house will be destroyed. I kept begging her to leave but she insisted on staying. She said she would never leave her home. I kept begging there was no time…I stayed with her preferring to die with her than to live and mourn her death. Can you believe the missile landed but did not explode? The authorities came and they carried it away. So we’re still alive.
There is no safe place in Gaza at all. Every place is a target. This means Israel is bankrupt and has no list of targets so it just bombs sporadically at civilian structures. Despite it all, the poor people of Gaza still go out into the street, they buy food for Ramadan, they make kenafah and katayef for desert and they try to live the spirit of the holy month.
What upsets me the most is that the situation in this city has become so painful. There are many who don’t have enough to buy food. And on top of that, there is war and destruction. Many live on handouts or borrowed money. Some people built their homes from borrowed money only to see their homes destroyed and with their home gone, so goes everything else they have. No one seems to understand the depth of our pain. Is it not enough we’re losing ourselves, losing our lives, losing our future, and outside, the rest of the world carries slogans ‘Gaza under attack’ or ‘Gaza under fire’ but listen first about what is really happening in Gaza. Some people even post the wrong photos from Syria or from Iraq this made the international media discredit what’s really happening here and this played to Israel’s advantage. But believe me what happened here in the past three days is a massacre.
What also really upset me and frustrates me is that no one is telling our stories. Our real human stories. They talk about us as enemies or they reduce us to numbers and statistics.
I am sorry I’ve given you a headache with my rant. But I really wanted to talk to you and tell you our stories.
I’ve been in Gaza for nine years now and in that time I’ve lived through three wars. Each war has many stories. If I don’t die in this war, I will write a book about those three wars….hahaha…I remember how innocent I was when I came here and how this place made me a human being. Seriously. I think as much as I am tired of being in this place, it has given me life.
All my friends outside Gaza call me and message me. They are worried this time I will get killed. One friend said ‘Promise me Aya you will not die. If you do I will be very upset with you’. They say if you need anything … I said yes…I’ve ran out of coal for my water pipe…I can’t smoke sheesha now. hahaha….:)
Pray for me.
Here is the video.
This is part of our Tales of a City by the Sea video series. To learn more about this project click on the home page, or visit our youtube channel and watch other short videos from the various key artists involved in this project. We are now half way through our fundraising campaign. Please bring us closer to our goal by making a donation, and by helping us spread the word by way of sharing our videos on social media and talking to your friends about this unique new and exciting project.
Source The Prisma
London will get closer to Palestine from the 3rd to 15th of May thanks to the view of the Arab-Israeli conflict to be shown in the works of around 40 Palestinian and international directors taking part in the 14th season of this festival.
Through 38 films and more than 20 events, Londoners will have the opportunity to see the oppression that the Palestinian public are subjected to as well as the heterogeneity that can be seen within the country, through the various practices, genres and screenplays. Palestine’s representation of self is promoted through cinematic titles, from conceptual and experimental focuses of artistic innovation to realistic cinema about socio-political wars and social activism. In other words, they are tools to help society better understand life in Palestine and on the Gaza Strip.
Organised in collaboration with the Centre for Palestine Studies, part of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the event will bring together academics, film makers and film critics to tackle the broad range of aspects related to film, or by extension, to Palestine.
This festival, pioneering in the UK, will disucss the historical, ethical and social aspects which envelop Palestinian life, as well as the aesthetics and subject matter of the films.
The feature film, through interviews and a notable process of historical documentation, is a profound portrait of the conflict which breaks out daily in Palestine and Israel and which shows how the Palestinian resistance is generalised and on the rise. The programme also includes the 25thAnniversary of the first uprising and will show Elia Suleiman’s first film, Homage by Assassination(Part of 1991 portmanteau The Gulf War … What Next?).
More than 20 films will premiere at this year’s festival including a documentary about life in the Syrian Golan Heights; Apples of the Golan, an impressive portrait of the importance of the comet on the Gaza Strip; Flying Paper, as well as some of the new film shorts about Palestine and beyond.
The festival will run from 3rd to 15th May at the Barbican Cinema and at the University of London.
For more information please visit:http://www.palestinefilm.org
(Translated by Frances Singer – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Inch’Allah,” Anais Barbeau-Lavalette’s feature about Israel-Palestine, may be the strongest effort yet to convey the emotions of the supercharged struggle over land and dignity in the present period. For nearly a half-century, those who wanted justice in Palestine hoped that some representation of their narrative could reach the screen. They lived in the shadow, of course, of the epochal power of “Exodus,” probably the most effective propaganda film in world history. A great many years ago I recall Andrew Sarris telling a Columbia film class that the Palestinians were enthused when Jean-Luc Godard got funding to make a movie about their struggle, but were disappointed by the results. What they had in mind was something like a modern western, with the fedayeen in the role of heroic good guys, a project which was never really in the French auteur’s wheelhouse.
Numerous films have sought to convey something of the moral ambiguity of the struggle, including Steven Spielberg’s “Munich.” I haven’t seen Julian Schnabel’s “Miral,” based on the novel/memoir by Rula Jabreal, the story of an orphanage for Palestinian girls whose parents were killed at Deir Yassin. Many had high hopes for the film, perhaps because of the widely acknowledged talent, warmth, and celebrity of Schnabel, but for one reason or another the movie never really took off.
“Inch’Allah” can’t boast the star power of Jean-Luc Godard or Julian Schnabel; its director, Barbeau-Lavalette, is young and highly regarded in the Quebec film world, but not any sort of household name. But her movie deserves the hopes and access to screens granted to “Miral,” and more. It is a tough, gritty, and intense portrayal of Palestinian life under the occupation and the moral dilemmas faced by those—like the Canadian doctor played by the gorgeous Evelyne Brochu—who get involved trying to help them. The Palestinians, three generations ago a rural and pacific people, have been ghettoized and hardened. More than any movie I’ve seen, “Inch’Allah” conveys the something of the feel of Palestinian life, sarcastic and bitter in the younger generations, old-fashioned in the older ones, trying cope under a system of domination and control far more sophisticated than anything South Africans could dream up. Read more
Palestinian singer from Gaza city Muhammad Assaf is one of 12 Arab singers who have made it into the final round of MBC’s popular singing competition Arab Idol performing the Palestinian song ‘Ya Teir el-Tayir’, ‘Oh Flying Bird’. Video of his performance (below) has gone viral with over one million viewers.
The play Tales of a City by the Sea is a unique and poetic journey into the lives of ordinary people in the besieged Gaza strip prior to, during and after its bombardment during the winter of 2008. Jomana, a Palestinian woman who lives in the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza falls in love with Rami, an American born Palestinian doctor and activist who arrives on the first Free Gaza boats in 2008. Their love is met with many challenges forcing Rami to make incredible decisions the least of which is to take a dangerous journey through the underground tunnels that connect Gaza to Egypt. Although on the surface this love story appears to explore the relationship between diaspora Palestinians and Palestinians under occupation, there is a broader and more universal theme that emerges – one of human survival and tenacity. Tales of a City by the Sea avoids political pitfalls, ideological agendas and clichés by focusing on the human story of the people in Gaza. Although the play’s characters are fictional, the script is based on real life events and is a product of a collection of real stories the author Samah Sabawi and her family have experienced during the events of the past several years. Sabawi has written most of the poetry in the play during the three-week bombardment of Gaza in 2008/2009.
The writer Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian published writer, commentator and playwright. She has travelled the world and lived in its far corners, yet always felt as though she was still trapped in her place of birth Gaza. The war torn besieged and isolated strip has shaped her understanding of her identity and her humanity. So what else could Sabawi do but to indulge in Gaza’s overwhelming presence and to succumb to tell the stories of her loved ones back home. Her most recent play Tales of a City by the Sea is dedicated to them and to all of those who still manage to have faith and hope even as the sky rains death and destruction.
The script is available to interested theatre makers upon request. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Follow Samah Sabawi on Twitter @gazaheart
Samah Sabawi’s professional bio can be found here
For more information on Samah Sabawi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samah_Sabawi
Ramzi Aburedwan was one such child, who grew up in the refugee camp of Al Amari near Ramallah. At the tender age of 8, he witnessed his best friend being killed during an Israeli military operation. He then found himself throwing stones during the first Intifada and as a street combatant Aburedwan seemed destined for an Israeli prison or a Palestinian martyr’s poster. But fate decided to intervene.
At 17, he was invited to a music workshop in Al Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, where he fell in love with the art and started to learn to play the viola. Replacing stones with a musical instrument led to a journey of channelling his anger into creativity and of personal transformation.
After studying for a year at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in Ramallah and thereafter attending a summer workshop in the United States — at the Apple Hill Centre for Chamber Music of New Hampshire — he enrolled at the Conservatoire National de Region d’Angers.
In 2000 Ramzi created the ensemble “Dal’Ouna”, music that symbolised the link between East and West. It flowed from an encounter between Palestine and France, from the melting of pure traditional Middle Eastern songs with mixed jazzy compositions, played on Western classical musical instruments (viola, violin, clarinet, flute, guitar, piano), and traditional Eastern instruments (bouzouk, oud, darbouka, bendir, etc).
In 2005, he was awarded the “DEM” gold medal for viola, chamber music and music theory. While in France, he also learnt to play the piano.
Yearning to share his knowledge and experience, and inspire a new generation of Palestinians, by helping their anger and frustrations find musical expression, Aburedwan established Al Kamandjâti (The Violin) in October 2002. It was to be the place where Palestinian children and youth could learn music and develop their culture.
In August 2005, Riwaq, the Palestinian architectural organisation engaged in conservation and rehabilitation, completed the renovation of the Al Kamandjâti Music Centre in the old city of Ramallah and it was here that Aburedwan launched his nonprofit musical enterprise, funded mainly by European donors.
Taking music to the people, Al Kamandjâti set up music schools for Palestinian children in various cities, villages and refugee camps. These music schools offer children the opportunity to learn to play music, to discover their cultural heritage as well as other musical cultures, but above all to explore their creative potential.
In addition, Al Kamandjâti produces numerous concerts and several music festivals throughout the year as part of its mission to bring music to all Palestinians.
Aburedwan explains the rationale: “Perhaps the least recognised effect of the violent Israeli occupation on the lives of Palestinian people is the undermining of culture, art and leisure. When a regime wants to weaken a people, it uses psychological, cultural and physical means. It attempts to erase tangible evidence of that people’s unique cultural heritage. Our struggle must be cultural and militant, artistic and political, and economic. But on no account should we forget the primary reason behind the projects and activities led by Al Kamandjâti, which is to educate children, who suffer most from the unjust politico-economic situation.
“We cannot afford to sit back and wait for favourable political decisions which would establish a Palestinian State,” he says. “We must proactively work on galvanising Palestinian cultural life. We must give our children the opportunity to think beyond soldiers and tanks. They must think creatively, not about the destruction of their country, but about rebuilding their way of life and future.”
In the West Bank, Al Kamandjâti today provides music training to around 500 students in places such as the Al Amari, Jalazon, Qalandiah and Qaddura refugee camps, the village of Deir Ghassana, the old cities of Ramallah and Jenin, and in Tulkarem.
Since 2005, Al Kamandjâti, with ten French musicians, has also organised annual music workshops in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, where, today, they have 60 students at Bourj el Barajneh and Shatilla.
In Palestine, Al Kamandjâti employs 22 musicians who teach violin, viola, cello, guitar, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, piano, accordion, oud, nay, Arabic percussion, orchestra, singing, harmony, choir, improvisation and music theory.
“Music is a universal language,” Aburedwan says. “We encourage Palestinians to use this artistic tool to harmonise and enrich their cultural life, promoting international awareness and recognition of the Palestinian nation.
“Through music, Al Kamandjâti seeks to show that education and culture can transcend and overcome the Israeli violence from which Palestinians suffer,” he adds. “Learning music provides children with a form of expression to channel their energy creatively and constructively. Are not today’s children tomorrow’s adults? Classical music is, for the children, a discovery. We introduce each one to an instrument. Moreover, these workshops enable children to gather in a disciplined setting, whether as neighbours or friends or new acquaintances”.
Many young international musicians have been working at Al Kamandjâti, discovering music and a practical approach to mastering various instruments with Palestinian children. Jason Crompton came from New Jersey four years ago to visit his sister in occupied Jerusalem and after learning about Al Kamandjâti, he stayed on to teach piano and conduct the orchestra. He learnt Arabic to communicate with the children and eventually married a fellow teacher from Italy, Madeleine, who teaches the flute and also works with UNRWA schools in the refugee camps around Ramallah. They have a child and now live in Ramallah.
“The feeling of sharing in the musical experience with anyone who wishes to indulge is special and we believe that we belong here,” Crompton says.
Their story lends credence to the oft-held belief that music transcends both borders and barriers. At Al Kamandjâti, it has been an enriching experience for both the Palestinian children and the teachers of many nationalities.
Not only does Al Kamandjâti teach Palestinian children how to play music, it also teaches some of them how to repair, maintain and tune instruments.
Shehadeh, a young man who has been involved in setting up a local lute-making workshop, spent three months in Italy with stringed-instrument makers who had previously been to Palestine, learning to repair and make instruments. Today his workshop adjoins the Al Kamandjâti building in Ramallah.
Al Kamandjâti organises The Music Days Festival in June, in partnership with the French Cultural Centres Network. The festival lasts 12 days and takes place in more than ten Palestinian cities. A Baroque Music Festival follows in December and various churches in the cities of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem host it.
Al Kamandjâti also engages in exchange programmes abroad with partner organisations. Some students have been given the opportunity to take part in music workshops abroad to improve their technical skills. Khalil, the coordinator, explains, “We had nine students who completed their scholarships in France last year — in violin, percussion, bass, clarinet and guitar, and two of them learnt how to fix string-section instruments.
“We have two blind brothers, Mohammad and Jihad, who today teach percussion and oud at the Helen Keller Centre in [occupied] Jerusalem,” he adds.
Today, Al Kamandjâti stands for Aburedwan’s transformation from a stone-pelter to a viola player and his dream of sharing his knowledge and experience with his people, bringing joy to the children growing up in refugee camps and under occupation.
This article appeared on http://www.albawaba.com/entertainment/palestine-camps-music-479027
Students at the West Bank’s first and only drama school talk about their struggle to establish a theatre in the West Bank and their desire to change society for the better through theatre. Ulrike Schleicher spoke to three of them
When Palestinian Malak Abu Gharbia was 12 years old, she met the famous Syrian actor and comedian Doraid Lahham after a theatre performance. “He asked whether I wanted to become an actress one day too,” says Malak, who is now 20 years old. “I wasn’t able to say a single word.” Since the encounter, film and theatre have been part of her life. She soaked up everything that had anything to do with them, read plays and went to see performances whenever possible.
For the past half year, Malak has been able to live out her passion: she is studying acting at the theatre academy in Ramallah in the West Bank. Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was one of her first roles.
Malak, who was born in Jerusalem, learns various acting techniques such as improvisation as well as singing, fencing and pantomime five days a week. She also trains her voice and rehearses. Although the academy is the first and only acting school in the West Bank, her training is no different to what she would receive in Europe.
The academy was founded in 2009 with the help of the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. The teachers there advise the staff at the Ramallah academy and are helping them to build what will in future be a state-approved college. Exchanges and guest performances are part of the cooperation.
So far, the lion’s share of funding has come from Germany, but the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah would also like to contribute in the future. Speaking at the opening of the academy in 2009, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the academy is helping to maintain the history, heritage and culture of Palestine.
Welcome to the 2013 London Palestine Film Festival
This year’s programme comprises 24 events at the Barbican Cinema and University of London, involving 38 titles, 24 guest speakers, and the UK’s first international conference on Palestine and the Moving Image.
Opening with a gala screening of David Koff’s trailblazing 1981 documentary, Occupied Palestine, the 2013 programme boasts historic depth with rarities including a thematic session marking the 25th anniversary of the first intifada, and an outing for Elia Suleiman’s debut, Homage by Assassination (part of 1991 portmanteau The Gulf War… What Next?).
There’s plenty of fresh material on offer too, with some 20 premieres, including a sharp new doc on life in the Syrian Golan heights, a revealing account of the vast quarrying industries in the West Bank, and the story of a spectacular kite flying world record bid in Gaza. Exceptional shorts and animations run throughout the programme, along with some bold new experimental works from Palestine and beyond.
For more information on the festival visit Palestine Film Foundation