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.
The Freedom Theatre embarks on its first-ever tour of the UK, with a brand new production: The Siege. It is inspired by the real-life accounts of a group of fighters and civilians who during the height of the second Intifada took refuge in the Church of the Nativity as the Israeli army closed in. The directors traced the fighters, now exiled across Europe and Gaza, and collected their and others’ untold accounts of an event that with time has taken on almost mythical proportion.
Did you watch The Siege? We’d love to hear from you!
Curious to know what others think of The Siege? Read some comments on the production page!
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
The REP (Birmingham) 4th – 6th June
NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE (Nottingham) 10th – 11th June
THE CUT (Halesworth) 13th June
THE TRON (Glasgow) 17th – 20th June
In addition to these performances, there will be a string of workshops and events throughout the UK tour. Find a list here!
The UK 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! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to touring Britain, The Siege was performed at The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, and at other venues in occupied Palestine. Read more about performances of The Siege in the West Bank.