@70: A CELEBRATION OF CONTEMPORARY PALESTINIAN CULTURE
Mon 14 May to Sun 20 May 2018
Studio Theatre, RADA Studios, 16 Chenies Street, WC1E 7EX
@70: Celebration of Contemporary Palestinian Culture, taking place from the 14-20 May, is a week-long festival of theatre, dance, films and talks commemorating the Palestinian experience of dispossession and loss of a homeland.
Every year on May 15, Palestinians around the world, numbering about 12.4 million, mark the Nakba. Three artists from Gaza – Ahmed Masoud, Ahmed Najar and Khalid Ziyada, have worked closely with Amnesty International UK, the Hoping Foundation, Amos Trust, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre to bring together this creative response to decades of injustice.
About the events:
The Shroud Maker
A play by Ahmed Masoud
Running time: 70 minutes
Hajja Souad, an 80-year old Palestinian woman living on the besieged Gaza Strip, knows about business. She has survived decades of wars and oppression through making shrouds for the dead. A compelling black comedy, The Shroud Maker delves deep into the intimate life of ordinary Palestinians to weave a highly distinctive path through Palestine’s turbulent past and present. Loosely based on a real life character still living in Gaza, this one-woman comedy weaves comic fantasy and satire with true stories told first hand to the writer, and offers a vivid portrait of Palestinian life in Gaza underscored with gallows humour.
Ahmed Masoud is a writer, director and academic based in the UK and author of Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda. His plays include Camouflage (London, May 2017), Walaa/Loyalty (London, June & November 2014), Unto the Breach (London, November 2012 & Vienna, November 2013) and Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea (London, 2009 & Edinburgh Fringe, August 2009). His radio piece Escape from Gaza was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2011.
A dance performance by Al Zaytouna Dance Troupe
Running time: 70 minutes
Al Zaytouna Dance Troupe in collaboration with Hava Dance Group present Project 51, written and directed by Ahmed Najar. Project 51 – the Israeli war on Gaza in summer 2014 lasted 51 days- questions the unequal media coverage of conflicts and terrorism, and critically challenges the given perceptions of the Palestinian struggle through the western media. The play centres on a Gazan man trying to distract his daughter from explosions and the sound of drones and military aeroplanes. Creatively using the power of the traditional Palestinian folk dance ‘Dabke’ and blending it with modern dance and theatre – this typically inclusive, infectious and widely popular dance form is used in a satirical way bringing an eruption of joy and an affirmation of individuality and belonging.
Ahmed Najar is a Palestinian director, playwright, dabke expert and co-founder of the Al-Zaytouna dance troupe. The company fuses traditional Palestinian folk dance (dabke) with contemporary dance, theatre, poetry, music, and digital media to create inspiring pieces of dance theatre to tell powerful stories about Palestine, often focusing on identity and cultural resistance.
As well as a being a regular dancer with the troupe, Najar has also written and directed several productions. He wrote Between the fleeting words, which toured the UK and Europe in 2011.
Najar took dabke teaching abroad when he worked with the Hava dance group in Slovenia (2014), writing and directing Water and Salt (Slovenia 2015) and Project 51 (London 2016).
A music performance by Marsm
Running time: 90 minutes
Renowned Palestinian singer Sana Moussa’s work is a tribute to Palestinian women’s folklore and a celebration of indigenous traditions in the face of occupation and globalization. Raised in a musical family hailing from Deir El Assad in the Galilee, Moussa could not help but develop a passion for traditional Palestinian sound from a young age. Moussa’s first album Ishraq was released one year ago and she has subsequently toured Palestine, Jordan and Cairo before coming to London. Remarkably, Moussa is simultaneously pursuing her PhD in Microbiology.
Portraits of Palestine: A case study from the British Colonial Archive
A screening by Marsm
Running time: 60 minutes
This 1947 British colonial propaganda film shows how the British government sought to present its role in Palestine at the very end of the Mandate period. Using archival documents to tell the full story of the film’s production, this presentation will show the forces at work in the creation of colonial film propaganda at the end of Empire. A rare chance to see fascinating footage from the British colonial era. Presented by writer and researcher Francis Gooding, who will present a close reading of the archival records, in order to unpick the imagery produced, and the motivations behind the making of the film.
Kings and extras: digging for a Palestinian image
Running time: 60 minutes
Director Azza El Hassan chronicles her journey on the trail of films made by the PLO Media which went missing during the Israeli invasion of in Beirut in 1982. The films were supposed to show a self-determined image of Palestinians from the moment of civilian expulsion in 1967 to PLO activity in Lebanon continuing until 1982. Through the narratives of individuals who El Hassan feels can assist in her search, the film touches on several aspects of contemporary Palestinian life. She travels through Syria, Jordan and Lebanon searching for clues as to where the lost archive might be. The increasingly absurd search leads her to where the films are said to be buried – but no one wants to dig them up.
The film reflects the situation in the Middle East; a failed revolution, the problematic relationship with the Arab neighbours and the question of a Palestinian identity today.
Azza El-Hassan is an award-winning Palestinian filmmaker. Since launching her film career in Ramallah, El-Hassan has now become one of Palestine’s most promising female directors. She has produced several works all of which reflect the different stages of her journey exploring her complex relationship with her Palestinian identity. Her films include Always Look them in the Eyes (2007), Kings & Extras (2004), 3cm Less (2003), News Time(2001), The Place (2000), Sinbad is a She (1999), A Title Deed from Moses (1998) and Arab Women Speak Out (1996).
You can book for single events or for everything on that evening (i.e. a double bill).
Tickets £26 for double bill performances (£23 concessions)
£16 for single performances (£13 concessions)/£20 closing night Sun 20 May (£16 concessions)
Monday 14 May
18:30 The Shroud Maker (followed by 30min Q&A)
20:00 Portraits of Palestine: A case study from the British Colonial Archive
Tuesday 15 May
18:30 The Shroud Maker (followed by a free presentation by Amnesty International from 20:00 – 21:30)
Wednesday 16 May
19:30 The Shroud Maker (preceded by a free presentation by Amos Trust starting at 18:30)
Thursday 17 May
18:30 The Shroud Maker
20:00 Sanaa Moussa
Friday 18 May
19:30 Project 51
21:00 Sanaa Moussa (live music)
Saturday 19 May
18:30 The Shroud Maker
20:00 Project 51
Sunday 20 May
09:00 PSC Conference: At 70 – Palestinian Refugees and the Right of Return
17:00 The Shroud Maker
18:30 Kings and extras: digging for a Palestinian image (followed by a Q&A at 19:30)