April 2002. Spring in Bethlehem. A group of armed men seek sanctuary in one of the world’s holiest sites as the Israeli army closes in with helicopters, tanks and snipers. Along with the fighters are some 100 priests, nuns and civilians. The siege lasts for 39 days, paralyzing the center of Bethlehem and keeping tens of thousands under curfew. Inside the Church of Nativity the besieged are hungry and weakening. The smell of unwashed bodies and broken lavatories is mixed with the stench from the suppurating wounds of the injured. Two dead bodies are decomposing in a cave below the church. While the world is watching, the fighters are faced with the question of whether to struggle to the end or to surrender. No matter what they choose, they will have to leave their families and their homeland behind forever.
In May 2015, The Freedom Theatre will embark on its first ever tour of the UK, with a brand new production: The Siege. It is inspired by the true stories of a group of fighters who during the height of the second Intifada took refuge in the Church of the Nativity. The directors traced the fighters who are now exiled across Europe and collected their untold accounts of an event that with time has taken on almost mythical proportions.
The Siege will be the biggest touring production ever performed in Britain by a Palestinian theatre company. By touring The Freedom Theatre’s work to the UK and Ireland for the first time, we aim to introduce emerging Palestinian artists and to raise awareness about the Cultural Resistance that is the core of The Freedom Theatre’s work. The project will connect Palestinian artists with artists and audiences across the UK and offer a platform for artistic expression and collaboration.
It is very exciting to welcome the Freedom Theatre’s tour of their new play ‘The Siege’ to Britain. This is real political theatre, performed out of the both terrible and inspiring experience of a struggle for freedom and justice. They are living proof that telling stories and entertaining audiences are powerful acts of resistance to oppression. Do go and see them, they have news for us. This little theatre could change the world.” Howard Brenton, playwright
THE LOWRY (Manchester) 13th – 14th May
LAKESIDE THEATRE (Colchester) 16th May
BAC (London) 19th – 23rd May
THE HUB (Leeds) 26th May
ST MARY IN THE CASTLE (Hastings) 28th May
THE MERLIN (Frome) 30th May
BIRMINGHAM REP (Birmingham) 4th – 6th June
NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE (Nottingham) 10th – 11th June
THE CUT (Halesworth) 13th June
THE TRON (Glasgow) 17th – 20th June
The tour is organised by The Friends Of The Freedom Theatre UK, a network of over 300 people in Britain who are engaged in the theatre’s activities. YOU can join them and help make this tour a success!
Prior to touring Britain, The Siege will be performed at The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, occupied Palestine, followed by a string of performances around the West Bank. Read more about performances of The Siege in the West Bank.