20th august, 2015: In the first ever India-Palestine Theatre collaboration, The Freedom Theatre(TFT) from Jenin is collaborating with the Indian theatre group, Jana Natya Manch this coming winter.
The Freedom Theatre is one of the leading Palestinian Theatres. Just as safdar Hasmi was killed during a performance in 1989, the founder of TFT Juliano Mer Khamis, was shot dead outside the theatre.
In November 2015, eight artistes from TFT will arrive in India for three months. They will take part in intensive workshops with the Indian theatre experts. Along with the actors from Janam, they will prepare a joint production, which will travel to a dozen Indian cities in December- january. These cities will include- Bhopal, Lucknow, Delhi, Bombay, (two cities of) Kerela, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Patna, Shimla.
“It will be a great experience for the young artistes from Palestine to share their ideas of freedom and liberation with Indian audiences,” said Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, the artistic leader of the project. “Indian culture, cinema, and theatre have been great inspirations for us, and we hope that this will lead to many more such cultural exchanges between our two countries.” When he was asked about the language barrier in performing in India, he said that art meant for heart will reach the heart irrespective of language barrier.
“Art for us is an identity and the third intifada in Palestine will be an art intifada,” said Jonatan Stanczak, one of the co-founder of Freedom Theatre, who was also present at the press conference
“Over Twenty Different cultural organisations are partnering with Janam to make this incredible tour happen,” said Sudhanva deshpande the artistic leader of the project from the Indian side. “A number of artistes are keen to associate with the production and tour in variety of ways.” He also said that theatre must have social relevance.
Many leading artistes and intellectuals have welcomed the tour. The famous Indian Actress Sharmila Tagore says, “I think it is very important for artists of different countries and culture to connect with each other. That the artistic collaboration is taking place without the mediation of any funding agency or International organisation, makes it more exciting as it is a direct dialogue between artistes of the two kindred civilisations.”
Sanjana Kapoor, co-director, Junoon, who are one of the partners in this project, says, “This is really important journey, where people from two lands get to meet each other, through performance. Palestine will meet India in this totally unique and wonderful way.”
“The Palestine Solidarity Committee(PalSol) welcomes this upcoming artistic collabortion,” said Prabir Purkayastha on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Committee. “We pledge this initiative all support.” The committee consists of leading public figures including film-makers Shyam Benegal and Saeed Mirza, writers Githa Hariharan and Nayantara Sahgal, and artist Vivan Sundaram.