Tuesday 31 July 2012

Ashtar Theater

ASHTAR Theatre was established in Jerusalem in 1991 as a non-profit organization by two prominent Palestinian actors, Edward Muallem and Iman Aoun, who worked in theatre since 1977. It is a dynamic local Palestinian theatre with a truly progressive global perspective. It aims at promoting creativity and commitment for change through a novel combination of specific training, acting programs and services as well as professional theatre performances. If marginalized audiences are unable to come to our main location in Ramallah, ASHTAR moves its stage to those often remote areas to include everyone.

ASHTAR offers intensive theatre training programs for local students throughout the year, often resulting in performances on stage, but also equipping young Palestinians with essential skills that go beyond acting.  In addition to an increased level of self-awareness and confidence, our training methodology equips students with leadership, communication, and teamwork skills.

One of ASHTAR’s pioneering specialties is a highly successful genre known as Forum Theatre. Devised in Brazil by Augusto Boal, the purpose of Forum Theatre is to promote a more active dialogue and commitment for change within society. This theatre form engages the audience to interact on stage with essential social and political issues, transforming a commonly passive audience into proactive and involved participants. In essence, Forum Theatre is a vital and engaging democracy-building tool. Through use of the integrated methods of Forum Theatre, ASHTAR stands as an agent of change in Palestine.

Internationally, ASHTAR has conducted 3 regional and two international trainings in its new capacity (since 2007) as the Middle East Regional Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed. It is currently undertaking further regional training in Yemen, and soon in Iraq. Ashtar has issued nine publications, including three theatre books, four drama manuals, and three socio-cultural evaluation assessments. One of these is the Arabic translation of the books of Augusto Boal, which aim to empower theatre as a tool for passing new laws and affecting positive change in society. These books are published in five Arab countries including Palestine.

The core troupe of professional actors performs several plays during the year, introducing new theatre forms in the Palestinian Territories. Increased cooperation with internationally known actors and directors ensures the continuous professional development of the team and the wider theatre community as well as an improved entertainment culture in the Palestinian Territories. ASHTAR got several international awards and increasing requests to perform abroad.

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