The Freedom Theatre is a theatre and cultural centre in Jenin refugee camp, occupied Palestine. We stage professional theatre productions, hold theatre workshops in the refugee camp, Jenin town and villages, offer training in acting, pedagogy and photography, and publish books, exhibitions and short films.
Since we opened our doors in 2006, we have made theatre and visual art available to every young person in Jenin refugee camp. Our work has made Jenin refugee camp known in Palestine and internationally for innovative, thought-provoking theatre and media productions. We have created a generation of artists and leaders, who one day will be at the forefront of the Palestinian liberation movement.
In our first decade, we have:
- Produced over 25 theatre plays, including adaptations of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Ghassan Khanafani’s Men in the Sun, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker and Athol Fugard’s The Island, and original plays such as Fragments of Palestine, Sho Kman, Stolen Dreams, Power/Poison, Math Exam, Return to Palestine, The Siege and Suicide Note from Palestine.
- Trained a core of actors, stage managers, theatre technicians, photographers, filmmakers and instructors that can independently run what has become one of Palestine’s largest cultural centres. Over fifteen theatre students have graduated from our Theatre School, more than five hundred young women and men have been trained in photography and film and have passed their skills on to others.
- Performed for more than 100 000 children, youth and adults in Jenin refugee camp and beyond.
- Reached out to more than 50 communities in occupied Palestine.
- Performed, held workshops and presentations in 15 countries.
What we do in the theatre is not trying to be a substitute or an alternative to the Palestinian resistance in the struggle for liberation, just the opposite. This must be clear. […] We join, by all means, the Palestinian struggle for liberation, which is our liberation struggle. We are not healers. We are not good Christians. We are freedom fighters.” Juliano Mer Khamis, co-founder
Although The Freedom Theatre’s focus is on theatre and visual arts, we do not take a neutral position on the issue of Israeli apartheid, colonisation and military occupation. Nor do we turn a blind eye to the internal violations of human rights, in particular the rights of women and children.
For the oppressed, the arts have always been a powerful tool for liberation. For us Palestinians, artistic expression is an integrated part of our quest for justice, equality and freedom.
The Freedom Theatre’s vision is a cultural resistance movement at the core of a free and critical Palestinian society. Through cultural resistance, The Freedom Theatre aims to raise a new generation that is able to challenge all forms of oppression.
So what is cultural resistance? It starts with play. Play is not reserved for children; it is the basic desire to experiment and test reality, which is a prerequisite for creativity and imagination. Everything we do in The Freedom Theatre contains an element of play. Through play, we can deconstruct an oppressive reality and make it comprehensible, which is the first step towards changing it. Just as we cannot imagine more colours than what our eyes have seen, we cannot imagine a reality beyond our own experiences and frames of reference. Then, we can dream and create change together.