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Celebrities for Palestine; Cultural Activism with Ben Rivers


by Marivel Guzman

A talk by Ben Rivers on Playback Theatre and Popular Struggle in Occupied Palestine. Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

A talk by Ben Rivers on Playback Theatre and Popular Struggle in Occupied Palestine. Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

Since December 2011, The Freedom Theatre’s Freedom Bus has engaged thousands of Palestinians and people from abroad in cultural actions that address Israel’s practice of settler colonialism, military occupation and structural apartheid. The Freedom Bus partners with village cooperatives, popular struggle committees and grassroots organizations to hold multi-day “solidarity stays” and “freedom rides” in villages, towns, refugee camps and Bedouin communities throughout the occupied West Bank. These events involve community visits, interactive seminars, guided walks, Hakawati (traditional storytelling), building construction, and protective presence activity.

A central feature of Freedom Bus events is the use of Playback Theatre. Through this method, a troupe of Palestinian actors and musicians invite stories from the audience and subsequently transform each account into a piece of improvised theatre. By sharing stories about the realities of life under colonization and apartheid, community members aim to mobilize audience members in the broader struggle for freedom and equality in historic Palestine.

Irene Fernández Ramos writes for her Storytelling, Agency and Community-building through Playback Theatre in Palestine What is Playback Theatre?
Playback Theatre is a form of non-scripted, interactive community-based theatre created in the 1970s in the United States by Jonathan Fox. A Playback Theatre event usually lasts around seventy-five minutes and it is constructed from the stories of members of the audience who are invited by a conductor to share short or long stories, or ideas, with the rest of the audience. The new storyteller steps forward and sits on the edge of the stage, where he or she is seen by the performers and by the audience. With the help of the conductor’s questions, this new ‘storyteller’ narrates his or her experience allowing the performers to understand the personal feelings lying behind the story and to translate them into improvised theatrical language. Read more on her essay here 

Endorsers of the Freedom Bus include personalities such Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky, Omar Barghouti and Peter Brook. (Click for the full list of endorsers).
The Freedom Bus is also endorsed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Code Pink in between other organizations.

Freedom Bus The heart and art of playbackUsing stories, photographs and video, Ben Rivers speaks about the Freedom Bus initiative and its role within the popular struggle movement.

Palestinian Solidarity Committee in India and 1 Shanthiroad last February organised a talk (Video) by Ben Rivers, a British-Australian drama therapist and co-founder of The Freedom Bus Initiative with The Freedom Theatre in Palestine, on playback theatre and popular struggle in Occupied Palestine. In the talk Ben focused on the cultural activities of the Freedom Bus Initiative, including ‘solidarity stays’ in which the team resides in a village for some days, acting as a protective cover or re-building homes . “We also work very closely with grassroots, popular struggle groups and organisations. We organize political actions together.” Excerpt from the Hindu.com

In his talk, Ben narrated some of his experiences working with the communities in occupied Palestine.

“In the South of the West Bank, in a region known as South Hebron Hills, we were on the outskirts of a village called Atwani, where a very small community lives. A lot of their land was stolen by people of a settlement nearby who were hostile. Palestinians who are grazing their sheep on the hills are regularly attacked by them. Palestinian children used to be stoned by the settlers as they walked to to school.”

Celebrities for Palestine shows their support through cultural boycott – Junot Diaz

November 9, 2014 2 comments

by Marivel Guzman

Artists and Intellectuals Including Junot Díaz, Chuck D, and Boots Riley Call for Boycott and Divestment from Israel

Junot Diaz, becoming an author in Oprah.com Photo: Nancy Crampton

Junot Diaz, becoming an author in Oprah.com Photo: Nancy Crampton

More #Celebrities4Pal openly coming out endorsing Palestine, the voices are growing louder and thicker. Every day we discover more celebrities adding their voices to Cultural Boycott against Israel.
Junot Diaz, the 45-year-old Dominican-American Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  fiction editor at Boston Review. He also serves on the board of advisers for Freedom University, a volunteer organization in Georgia that provides post-secondary instruction to undocumented immigrants. Diaz is Pulitzer winner author of several books; This is How you Lose her, Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, (Wikipedia)

Last September  Diaz called on the Brooklyn Book Festival to reject sponsorship from Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs. In an open Letter to the Brooklyn Book Festival advising against accepting Israeli Sponsorship

Tell the Brooklyn Book Festival to no longer accept partnerships with the Israeli government or complicit institutions.

“It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept funding from the Israeli government just weeks after Israel’s bloody 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2100 Palestinians – including 500 children – dead, displaced a fourth of the population, destroyed homes, schools, and hospitals, and involved numerous potential war crimes. Sustaining a partnership with the Israeli Consulate at this time amounts to a tacit endorsement of Israel’s many violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.” An excerpt from the open letter to the Brooklyn Book Festival

 

On September 30,  during his Lecture at Clark University he made mention of the pressure scholars feel when they speak out for Palestine, and shared his personal experiences as a call to support the Palestinian people.

“We are extremely excited to have an author of Diaz’s stature visit Clark,” said Paul Posner, director of the University’s Latin American and Latino Studies concentration and faculty organizer of the event.  “His work deals with issues – colonialism’s legacy in Latin America, cultural identity and language, immigration and gender relations, among others – that are of central importance to many of our students and faculty.”
Endorsing The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel a statement from Diaz was published as a Press release saying that Diaz joins Chuck D and Boots Riley as prominent artists who have recently endorsed the boycott

” If there exists a moral arch to the universe then Palestine will eventually be free but that promised day will never arrive unless we, the justice-minded peoples of our world, fight to end the cruel blight of the Israeli occupation. Our political, religious and economic leaders have always been awesome at leading our world into conflict, only we the people alone with little else but our courage and our solidarities and our invincible hope can lead our world into peace.” Junot Diaz

 

Every day we discover a new Celebrities4palestine showing either they disgust for Israel Apartheid policy of segregation or their open support for Palestine.
It is commendable to recognize their openness, knowing that they are risking their careers. In the US it is career suicide to support Palestine, but when in comes to persons of integrity they can’t hide it, it is against their moral compass.

Celebrities in another kind of cultural work, article published in the Blog of huffingtonpost.com

Celebrities For Palestine – Suheir Hammad her Palestinian blood speaks with her poetry

October 31, 2014 1 comment

Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad

One of our own #Celebs4Pal Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian poetess, actress and peace activist. Suheir Hamad is a gift to us, to Palestine, to Palestinians, to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement and to the women of the world.  Suheir Hammad’s poetry is empowering by her women inner voice.

Over the years we have witnessed the pain of the land (Palestine) we seen her mothers taking their sons to the grave only with their courage and their pride as mothers of the martyrs of the land.

She is Palestinian one hundred percent Palestinian,  she takes her blood to the stages of the world. Her poetry is powerful, energetic and even though it is sad poetry, her poetry deliver hope.

“As a child I had this sense that God was a huge poet,” she said. Her father taught her nationalist songs, which she later realized were originally written as poems. She then went on to discover for herself the great
Palestinian poetry has this pain ingrained in its soul, Mahmoud Darwish poetry has been an inspiration for thousands of poets, Suheir Hammad, Palestinian herself, said that his poetry played a significant role in her life and eventually in her poetry.

In ‘Salt of the Sea’ Suheir Hammad walks the streets of Palestine showing her (Palestine) terrible tragedy of being occupied land,  “Salt of the Sea’  gives every Palestinian in the exile a taste of Palestine, to the world ‘Salt of the Sea’ gives testimony of an occupy land.

A fact little known is that our #Celebs4Pal Danny Glover, a known American actor was part of the Salt of the Sea production Co-producing of the project.

“The range of international co-producers — including Danny Glover’s Louverture Films — attests to the well-intentioned multinational desire to support Palestinian cinema, and “Salt” has received numerous pre- and post-production grants, including funding from San Sebastian’s Cinema in Motion 3 and the Hubert Bals Fund. Too bad Jacir’s characters are written to explain a situation rather than enjoy an independence of personality.” Variety.com
To understand Suheir’s poetry you need  to understand women’s struggles, Palestinian’s struggles and her being born out of Palestinian refugees that even though have found a place in the world to raise a family they never forget Palestine. How could they?

When she read the script of Salt Of the Sea, she saw poetry in it and acted as Palestinians and not as an actress. The film was a success but as Suheir said,

“the film is really marginalized” she explains, “ but it’s also part of a continuum… so now other films that are not that aesthetic or are not that drive will have a chance now, because it pushed the door open. The victory is to see your position as part of the continuum and that’s where the hope is.”

Roddy Doyle, Brigid Keenan, Suheir Hammad, Ahdaf Soueif,

Roddy Doyle, Brigid Keenan, Suheir Hammad, Ahdaf Soueif,

http://globalartscentral.com/suheir-hammad-the-palestinian-poet-born-black/

Salt of the Sea Trailer Trailer

Support Suheir Hammad with her career, her activism and  her poetry.

That is the beauty of being a #Celebs4Pal all their success,  and their power taken to the stages, at the end their support Palestine with their voice.

 

In her poems and plays, Suheir Hammad blends the stories and sounds of her Palestinian-American heritage with the vibrant language of Brooklyn to create a passionately modern voice. TED.com

Follow her in her twitter https://twitter.com/yosuheirhammad, and support her directly buying her poetry, attending her speeches and her acting career.

Suheir Poetry at Amazon.com

The only way to support Palestine is if we are strong, for that we must support each other and unfortunately we can not travel the world speaking for Palestine if there is no financial support. We are supporting Palestine when we support our #Celebs4Pal through their art.

Poems of war, peace, women and power

Poet Suheir Hammad performs two spine-tingling spoken-word pieces: “What I Will” and “break (clustered)” — meditations on war and peace, on women and power. Wait for the astonishing line: “Do not fear what has blown up. If you must, fear the unexploded.” TED.com


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