The Freedom Theatre was co-founded by Jewish-Israeli actor/director Juliano Mer Khamis, Zacharia Zubeidi and other members of Jenin camp, and inspired by Juliano’s mother Arna Mer, whose psychodrama therapy workshops with Palestinian children suffering PTSD (including Zacharia in his youth) and lifelong activism for the liberty and dignity of the Palestinian people are documented in the film Arna’s Children.
“My dream is that The Freedom Theatre will be the major force, cooperating with others in generating a cultural resistance, carrying on its shoulders universal values of freedom and justice.” ~ Juliano Mer Khamis
“Using the arts as a model for social change, The Freedom Theatre is developing the only professional venue for theatre and arts in the north of the Occupied Palestinian Territories…. The aim of this project is to empower and give voice to the children of Jenin Refugee Camp through a unique program of workshops and activities in theatre, supporting arts and multi-media, and ranging in their emphasis from the largely therapeutic and healing to the presentation of high-quality artistic products.”
Through its work, The Freedom Theatre aims to:
- provide the children of Jenin Refugee Camp with a space in which boys and girls can equally and safely express themselves, dare to experiment, take risks, imagine other realities and challenge existing social and cultural barriers
- empower children to find new ways of solving problems and to develop the confidence needed to face the hardships of their everyday reality
- address the cultural isolation that limits access to the wider Palestinian and global communities
- demonstrate a model of artistic excellence in theatre and the arts.” (www.thefreedomtheatre.org)
In Skype conversations from Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank… Freedom Theatre students and instructors of drama, film, multi-media, photography, etc. discuss their life under Israeli occupation, creative actions in nonviolent “cultural resistance” — international tours of the U.S.A. and Europe, presentations of Freedom Theatre plays (‘The Siege’ receives outstanding praise on UK tour; “Journey-of-a-Freedom-Fighter”-screened-at-international-film-festivals), civil disobedience “freedom rides” throughout the West Bank inspired by American civil rights “freedom rides” in the 196Os (The Freedom Bus), theater and street performances in West Bank cities, etc. — and their demand for justice and equal civil rights to achieve lasting peace and the promise of friendship between Palestinians and Israeli Jews symbolized by the memory of Israeli activists Arna Mer and her son Juliano Mer Khamis, whose dedication to the liberty and dignity of the Palestinian people and children of Jenin camp continues to inspire the mission of The Freedom Theatre.
The Freedom Theatre and Juliano Mer Khamis in his own words — Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch.