Nearly two years after his assassination in Jenin Refugee Camp, the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, founding General Director of The Freedom Theatre, remains unresolved. But the project that he gave his life to is finding new strength to carry on his vision of using art as a tool for resistance against oppression.
Exacerbated by harassment by the Israeli army and the unlawful detention of Artistic Director Nabil Alraee, the aftermath of the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis in April 2011 was a period of great trauma for the staff and students of The Freedom Theatre. Many commentators had begun to question whether this unique arts organisation, located in the war-ravaged Jenin Refugee Camp, would find the strength to continue. But two years on, the Freedom Theatre is in the midst of a great resurgence. Supporters old and new are returning in droves to reinforce the impact of its work, as The Freedom Theatre engages new communities and new art forms in its mission of demonstrating the revolution possible through culture.
The second anniversary of the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis on April 4 marks the opening of another in-house production at The Freedom Theatre; the second production this year alone. The play, called Suicide Note from Palestine, is a window into the younger generation of Palestine; a generation just as hopeless about their present as they are about the future.
The play’s main character is Amal, who one day before her final exams has a concerning nightmare: she is Palestine and she has decided to die. Amal’s nightmare drafts between confusion, torture and despair – notions set as strange characters that symbolise some of the key players in world politics that shape the land, history, politics and uphold the occupation of her country. Interrogated and manipulated, Amal is forced into a comatose state and can barely speak. Suicide Note from Palestine is a physical video/visual art performance, using social satire to present an image of the national trauma of the Palestinian people.
“As Juliano has taught and shared with us, we continue to build the steps of a professional Palestinian theatre with a meaningful message: resistance through art with the highest standards for the young generation that will build the grounds for hope for Palestine”, says the play’s director, Nabil Al-Raee. “Especially on the day of the second anniversary of Juliano’s murder, the whole theatre is dedicating all its work to our deceased inspiring teacher, director and role model to remind about the silence that has followed the murder. Until today we do not know who is responsible for this terrible act. We didn’t forget, we will never forget and we will keep working, questioning, demanding for justice.”
Suicide Note from Palestine is performed at The Freedom Theatre:
Thursday April 4 Première @ 16:00
Saturday April 6 @12:00 and @ 16:00
Sunday April 7 @12:00 and @ 16:00
Suicide Note from Palestine is supported by Sida, as part of the PAN program, and by the Swedish Postcode Lottery.
Il 4 aprile 2011 è stato assassinato a Jenin Juliano Mer Khamis, fondatore del Freedom Theatre. L’attore e attivista israeliano Juliano Mer Khamis, direttore della scuola di teatro Freedom Theatre a Jenin, è stato ucciso oggi da un uomo armato con il volto coperto che l’ha atteso all’ingresso del campo profughi e lo ha freddato con diversi colpi di arma da fuoco. Juliano era figlio di Arna, ebrea israeliana, iniziatrice e fondatrice di una scuola di teatro nel campo profughi palestinese di Jenin e di un palestinese di Haifa Saliba Khamis. Nel 2003 aveva prodotto e diretto il suo primo documentario, “I bambini di Arna”, sul lavoro di sua madre volto a creare laboratori di teatro per bambini palestinesi nel campo profughi, durante gli anni ’80. Nel 2006, Juliano, aveva aperto una scuola di teatro per ragazzi e adulti, nel campo profughi di Jenin, chiamato il “Freedom Theatre”. Quando Mer-Khamis e’ stato assassinato era in auto con la tata che si prende cura del figlio, che è rimasta ferita. Il governatore di Jenin ha immediatamente condannato l’accaduto e provveduto a far arrivare il corpo di Juliano alle autorità israeliane, presso il checkpoint più vicino. Zakariya Zubeidi, l’ ex comandante locale delle Brigate dei martiri di Al Aqsa, che con Juliano aveva aperto il Teatro della Liberta’ha ipotizzato il coivolgimento di una “grossa organizzazione” dietro l’assassinio.
All revenues from Arna’s Children DVD sale are donated towards The Freedom Theatre project.
ARNA’S CHILDREN tells the story of a theatre group that was established by Arna Mer Khamis. Arna comes from a Zionist family and in the 1950s married a Palestinian Arab, Saliba Khamis. On the West Bank, she opened an alternative education system for children whose regular life was disrupted by the Israeli occupation. The theatre group that she started engaged children from Jenin, helping them to express their everyday frustrations, anger, bitterness and fear. Arna’s son Juliano, director of this film, was also one of the directors of Jenin’s theatre. With his camera, he filmed the children during rehearsal periods from 1989 to 1996. Now, he goes back to see what happened to them. Yussef committed a suicide attack in Hadera in 2001, Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin, Alla leads a resistance group. Juliano, who today is one of the leading actors in the region, looks back in time in Jenin, trying to understand the choices made by the children he loved and worked with. Eight years ago, the theatre was closed and life became static and paralysed. Shifting back and forth in time, the film reveals the tragedy and horror of lives trapped by the circumstances of the Israeli occupation.