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 200 priests, nuns and civilians. The siege lasts for 39 days, paralysing 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.
The Freedom Theatre proudly presents a brand new production, The Siege, based on the 2002 events in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, that played out parallell to the invasion of Jenin Refugee Camp and made headlines worldwide. 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 premiered on April 4, a day of profound meaning for The Freedom Theatre. Read more here. After a series of performances in Jenin Refugee Camp and in other locations in the West Bank (find full schedule here) it will embark on The Freedom Theatre’s first-ever tour of the UK. Read more.
The Siege will be the biggest touring production ever performed in the UK by a Palestinian theatre company. By touring The Freedom Theatre’s work to the UK 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 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.
The Siege is directed by Palestinian theatre director Nabil Al-Raee and British theatre director Zoe Lafferty, who previously collaborated on Sho Kman?, a critically acclaimed production that opened in Jenin and went on to tour to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The piece is developed and devised by The Freedom Theatre actors, a unique ensemble who use culture as a form of resistance and who have lived under occupation their whole lives.