“I used to tell Juliano: I am happy because I have found a new path for resistance after having lost so much in the armed resistance. I lost my sister, lots of friends and beloved ones, and I think this chain of loss will stop here with the path of cultural resistance. But here came a day where I lost the leader – not just an element in the squad…”
Rabea Turkman in Marie Caspari’s documentary “Fragments of Palestine”
Rabea Turkman, a beloved member of The Freedom Theatre, was found dead in his apartment by his friends on Tuesday 30 April. Rabea had only one kidney after being shot by the Israelis during his previous years as an armed fighter, and suffered from severe health problems ever since.
At the age of 16, Rabea joined the armed Palestinian resistance in Jenin. But at 23 Rabea decided to change the course of his resistance, and so lay down his weapon and joined The Freedom Theatre’s first class of acting school students. Throughout the three-year programme, the students and their mentor, Juliano Mer Khamis, develop several powerful plays that addressed life under occupation. Rabea’s repertoire included serious roles such as the one in The Freedom Theatre’s adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun, as well as more comical characters like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. The latter fitted Rabea like hand in glove with his stage presence, positive energy and physical flexibility.
During the period of armed struggle Rabea lost many friends. He was the only member of his militant group who did not end up in Israeli prison or was shot dead by the Israeli army. In addition, Rabea lost his sister who was shot when the army entered his family home to arrest him. Rabea never got over this loss, and was ridden by guilt.
In spring 2011, Juliano Mer Khamis was shot in front of The Freedom Theatre by an unknown assailant. Despite the trauma of Juliano’s death and the lack of closure, Rabea and his fellow students were determined to continue as actors and to honour his legacy. Rabea has persistently developed his talent as an actor and has also had great success as a stand-up comedian.
Losing Rabea is to many of The Freedom Theatre’s members the same as losing a brother. Rest in Power, Rabea.