The Palestine Solidarity Committee in India and and The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) conducted a talk by Ben Rivers on the topic ‘Playback Theatre and Popular Struggle in Occupied Palestine,’ at the May Day Bookstore and Cafe, New Delhi, on 8 January 2014.
Ben Rivers is an educator and cultural activist based in the Middle East. He specializes in the use of applied theatre for community mobilization and is a co-founder of The Freedom Theatre’s Freedom Bus initiative (www.freedombus.ps).
Since December 2011, The Freedom Theatre’s Freedom Bus has engaged thousands of Palestinians and people from abroad in cultural actions that address Israel’s practice of settler colonialism, military occupation and structural apartheid. The Freedom Bus partners with village cooperatives, popular struggle committees and grassroots organizations to hold multi-day “solidarity stays” and “freedom rides” in villages, towns, refugee camps and Bedouin communities throughout the occupied West Bank. These events involve community visits, interactive seminars, guided walks, Hakawati (traditional storytelling), building construction, and protective presence activity.
A central feature of Freedom Bus events is the use of Playback Theatre. Through this method, a troupe of Palestinian actors and musicians invite stories from the audience and subsequently transform each account into a piece of improvised theatre. By sharing stories about the realities of life under colonization and apartheid, community members aim to mobilize audience members in the broader struggle for freedom and equality in historic Palestine.
Endorsers of the Freedom Bus include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky, Omar Barghouti and Peter Brook. The Freedom Bus is also endorsed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
Using stories, photographs and video, Ben Rivers will speak about the Freedom Bus initiative and its role within the popular struggle movement.