Wednesday 15 August 2012


 After the huge success that “Richard II” has achieved in Jericho- Hisham Palace and in Shakespeare’s Olympics in the Globe- London. ASHTAR Theatre returns with this huge production to Ramallah at Al-Kasaba Theatre and cinematheque.

ASHTAR Theatre
William Shakespeare’s

“Richard II”

Richard II, written around 1595, is the first play in Shakespeare's second "history tetra logy," a series of four plays that chronicles the rise of the house of Lancaster to the British throne. Richard II, set around the year 1398, traces the fall from power of the last king of the house of Plantagenet, Richard II, and his replacement by the first Lancaster king, Henry IV (Henry Bolingbroke).

“Richard II” by ASHTAR has represented Palestine in “Globe to Globe”
Shakespeare Olympics – London May 4 & 5, 2012

The Days of Performance at Al-Kasaba Theatre and cinematheque.

Tuesday 18\9\2012         4:00   pm
Wednesday 19\9\2012   8:00 pm

Cast and Crew

Director: Conall Morrison
Scenographer: Rajha Shakiry
Editor: Ghassan Zaqtan


Sami Metwasi       George Ibrahim    Edward Muallem   Nicola Zreineh
Hussein Nakhleh  Amer Khalil          Mohammad Eid     Bayan Shbib
Ihab Zahdeh          Raed Ayasa         Firas Farah             Eyad Hurani
Iman Aoun

"  Ashtar offers a fairly pacy production. Stripped of its native tongue, and with only the surtitles to direct you for plot, the play’s moral complexities are more sharply defined”
The arts desk 

بعد النجاح الكبير الذي حققته مسرحية " ريتشارد الثاني" في قصر هشام
- أريحا وفي أولمبياد شكسبير على مسرح الغلوب – لندن.

مسرح عشتار
"ريتشارد الثاني"
لويليام شكسبير
 على مسرح وسينماتك القصبة
18 – 19 أيلول

"ريتشارد الثاني" هي من أوائل المسرحيات التاريخية التي كتبها ويليام شكسبير في العام 1595، وتدور أحداثها حول سقوط عائلة مالكة بريطانية وظهور عائلة مالكة جديدة بمساعدة العامة والفلاحين، مما يلقي بظلاله على الربيع العربي الحاصل حاليا في الوطن العربي.

"ريتشارد الثاني" لمسرح عشتار مثلت فلسطين إلى جانب 36 دولة أخرى في أولمبياد شكسبير على مسرح الغلوب في لندن في أيار 2012.

أيام العروض في مسرح وسينماتك القصبة- رام الله.

الثلاثاء 18/9/2012  الساعة – 4:00 مساء
الأربعاء 19/9/2012 الساعة 8:00 مساء

الطاقم الفني

سامي متواسي                   جورج إبراهيم                  إدوار معلم                        نيقولا زرينة        
حسين نخلة                      عامر خليل                       محمد عيد                        بيان شبيب
إيهاب زاهدة                     رائد العيسة                      فراس فراح                      إياد حوراني
إيمان عون
إخراج: كونال موريسون - أيرلندا
تصميم ملابس:  راحجة شاكيري – بريطانيا
تحرير لغوي: غسان زقطان

ثلاثي جبران ( مقتطفات من مجاز)

Saturday 4 August 2012

         خطوة في بكرا 
        A Step into Tomorrow 

The Final Performance

photo credit
Dr. Abdallah Abu Shararah

Ashtar Theatre has organized an International Festival for youth between the 7th and the 17th of July 2012. The festival comes as a celebration of the theater’s 20th anniversary and the huge global success of Gaza Monologues.

The Festival “ A Step into Tomorrow”  has consisted of several different workshops that functioned to prepare the festival’s participants for the final performance that was performed on the 17th of July, the last day of the festival at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah.
From left to right
(Emile(Palestine), Sophiem Barclay (Denmark) and Majdi( Palestine))
photo credit
Dr. Abdallah Abu Shararah

The festival has invited several theater groups and individual with theatrical and artistic backgrounds from several countries such as, Germany, The United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, the United States, France, Poland, Ukraine, and Jordan. The Festival has also invited many of the local theaters, such as the Freedom Theatre (Jenin camp), Al-Hara theater (Bethlehem). Unfortunately and for financial reasons, many other local theaters were unable to join the festival such as “Oyoun Theater” (Majdal-shams) and “Yes” Theater (Hebron).

Marie Popall (Berlin)
photo credit
Dr. Abdallah Abu Shararah
The final performance was performed by 46 international and local actors. The final performance carried the name of “A Step into Tomorrow” and consisted mainly of several different scenes that represented various subjects and topics which all pour under the same theme “A step into Tomorrow”.

The Festival’s participants were trained mainly by four trainers:  Lydia Ziemke (Germany), Utah Plate (Germany), Annet Heinemann (Holland/ Italy), Fernando Nope (Sweden), and was supervised by Iman Aoun (Palestine).

The Festival's schedule with details:

1.     7 July 2012 – The opening ceremony was held at ASHTAR Theatre.  ASHTAR Theatre International Youth Festival - ATiYF is a continuation step of The Gaza Mono-Logues. Therefore, it was inaugurated by a presentation of the three documentaries of The Gaza Mono-Logues that represented the project from its local idea to its global implementation in the different countries around the world, ending with the performance at the UN in November 2010.  The trilogy of the documentaries, 25 minutes each, shed light on the human rights aspect of the project and on the youth of Gaza who had written the monologues and the youth of the world who had believed in their cause and raised their voices onto the world stage. The audience members at ASHTAR Theatre who attended the ATiYF opening were very touched and amazed by the energy of the youth participating in the project. Some of the international audience members were participants in the project and were very emotional about seeing themselves in the documentaries. ATiYF was aiming at giving a strong platform for youth to affect and enhance their future positively and they did.

90 audience members attended the opening. They came from the different cities of the WB in addition to the international participants of the festival. Adults represented 33% (14 males and 16 females), youth represented 61% (25 males and 30 females), and a few children 6% (3 males and 2 females).

The event was followed by a reception attended by the audience, the donors, and festival participants and ASHTAR staff.

2.     8 July 2012, “Face Hook” - a performance of Al Hara Theatre at Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Centre – Aida Refugee Camp. The audience were 150 persons, and they came from different places; Aida Camp, Beit Jala, and Bethlehem. The majority were from Aida Camp around 75 persons, those who came from Beit Jala and Bethlehem were around 25, and the festival participants 50. Adults represented 37% (35 males and 20 females), youth represented 50% (35 males and 40 females), and 13% were children (10 males and 10 females).

Following the performance a discussion took place around the themes of the presented play. The topics were related to youth concerns and suggested that social issues of youth are not a priority like political and national issues. The actors along with the majority of the audience were also involved in asserting the importance of presenting such social issues that relate to the youth sector.

Post the performance the festival participants took a tour inside the Refugee Camp and talked with several people about their situation, problems encountered and difficulties faced living near the wall. They were also taken to Solomon’s Pools and the Nativity Church in addition to a tour in the old city of Bethlehem.

Also on the way to Bethlehem in the bus there were lots of discussions and briefing for the international participants on the prevailing socio-political realities in Palestine. They saw the settlements and the separation wall. This evoked many questions and nationals clarified the situation.

A second activity was supposed to be playing at Alrowwad that evening, a documentary film called “Stones” on the role of drama. Produced by Görhönufilm and directed by Daniel Misota one of the participants from Hungary, who couldn’t arrive with the film on time therefore it was canceled.

3.     9 July 2012, “For Adults Only” a performance by ASHTAR Theater students, at ASHTAR Theater. 40 people were from the festival participants and 70 others came from Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate. Youth represented 62% (30 males and 38 females), adults represented 35% (18 males and 20 females), and children were only 3% (2 males and 2 females). 

The performance was praised by the audience, and congratulated the graduating students on the calibre of their theatrical skills.

4.     11 July 2012, “The Auction” the performance of Teatro di Nascosto, at The Freedom Theatre, Jenin Camp-Jenin. Freedom Theater hall was packed up with people from the Camp, the city of Jenin and the Festival’s participants. There were about 200 persons. Youth represented 70% of the audience’s majority (75 males and 65 females), while adults represented 25% (30 males and 20 females), and children were 5% of the audience (8 males and 2 females).

During and after the performance of “The Auction” a huge interaction between the audience and the actors was noticed. This was due to the great acting and the very evocative theme of selling precious and intimidating items. After the performance has ended, the Festival’s participants were taken on a tour in Jenin Refugee Camp. The participants were shown were Juliano Mer Khamis was assassinated, Jenin’s Martyrs’ graveyard, and the Camp where hundreds of Palestinians were murdered and more imprisoned.

5.     16 July 2012, The Closing Ceremony was held on the last day of the Camp-Festival, and took place at Ramallah Cultural Palace.

The donors were honoured and were awarded trophies. Also the local and international participating theatre groups and the international trainers were awarded trophies. In addition, Ashtar Theatre trainers who were responsible for training the graduates throughout their journey with Ashtar were also honoured (Mohammad Eid, Bayan Shbib, and Raed Al Ayasa)

It is worth noting that the masters of the ceremony were three of the graduating students. The graduation of Ashtar Theatre’s seventh class was followed for the 11 students.

The feature event of the ceremony was a huge performance “A Step into Tomorrow”; the joint performance represented 46 local and international theater students, who danced, sang and acted in front of around 600 people who came from everywhere mainly from Ramallah and Al Bireh Governorate, Jenin - mainly Jenin Refugee Camp, and Bethlehem Governorate. Several themes were presented within the performance, which was related to the issues pertaining to the participating theatre students at this stage of their lives such as: war, separation, love, identity, brotherhood, checkpoints, occupation, self discovery, prison, resistance, society, social classes, sex and religion.

The audience were mainly youth and represented 58% (170 males and 180 females), adults represented 35% (100 males and 110 females), and a few children represented 7% (22 males and 18 females).

 Challenges faced: 
In spite of the fact that the fund-raising phase started in September 2011, it took almost 10 months in this endeavour. The major problem faced by Ashtar Theatre administration and the students organizing the festival was the lack of funds. Almost 18 Palestinian companies/firms were contacted; we were not successful in securing the planned budget for the project. In addition to the main donor namely Sida – Sweden, we managed to secure the support from only 4 companies/firms their support for the festival (PADICO, Amarizian Publishing, Golden Globe Tours, The Episcopal TVT Centre – in kind contribution, National Beverage Company – in kind contribution). Unfortunately, this not only asserts the continued lack of opportunities for professional development and incentives for artistic innovation, but also reflects the realities of our society that continues to have a low level of awareness and appreciation of culture in general and theatre in specific.  

The international cultural centres in Ramallah supported some of the travel expenses of their nationals (e.g. Goethe Institute in Ramallah covered the cost of 7 participants from Schuabuhne). The French Cultural Centre in Ramallah covered the accommodation of one French person. The European Cultural Foundation covered the travel expenses of 10 members of Theatre di Nascosto.

This situation has lead to making some drastic changes throughout this period. The budget had to be modified and cut down almost after every meeting with the graduating students, meaning some of the expenses had be cut out and do the festival without them. For example, we had to ask the international participants to cover the cost of their travel till the borders. Thus only 23 internationals were able to join the Camp-Fest. We lost two theatre groups that were eager to participate; The Zimbabwean group “Zambuko/Izibuko Theatre Group” and a Tunisian group “Theatre Plus” since they were not able to raise the funds for their travel, although they have tried till the last minute. Also lack of funding led to taking the participants to Bethlehem and Jenin only unlike our previous ambition to expose them to several towns, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank.

Challenges Overcame:
Regardless of all the challenges that were faced, the graduating students managed to make it happen. They were able to hold a festival with participants from all over the world. They worked very hard over the 10 days, and came up with a show with their local and international counterparts that combined all of their talents from dance, to music, to acting in one show. They were able to learn a lot, meet new cultures, widen their horizons on different issues, and make new friends. 

Images from the Festival and the final Performance:

Siwar Abu sham'a ( Palestine) - in the center
from left to right
(Jeries, Emile, Basil, Rana (Palestine))
Valera (Ukraine), Pascal (UK), Karma (Jordan), Abdallah(Palestine).
photo credit
Dr. Abdallah Abu Shararah

from left to right
Darine (Jordan), Alex (UK), Mo'ayad(Palestine), Kamal (Palestine), Nizar(Palestine)
photo credit
Dr. Abdallah Abu Shararah

left to right
(Jeries, Fernando, suha, Asma, Kamal, Anna, Abdallah, Arabella, Sophie, Annet, Marie, Darine, Wiebke, Joanna, Karma, Saji, Rebecca, Utah, Ahlam, Iman.)
second row from left to right ( Pascal, Valentina, Sophie, Issa, Alex, Quds, Rana, Jude, Siwar, Melkar, Issa, Joasia, Besan, Lydia, Emile, Mo'auyad, Jenny, Yazan, Jenin, Tamsin, Travers, Valera.)
photo credit
Travers Jacob

from left to right
Melkar( Palestine), Joanna( Germany), Arabella(UK)
photo credit
Dr. Abdallah Abu Shararah

Thursday 2 August 2012


Ashtar Theatre-Palestine

The fourth Season of

Theater of the Oppressed

“Break your silence…share your stories”

(April 20 - May 11 2013) 

The Palestinian society that has been living under long years of political, social and economical constrains and oppression, is entangled in pre-defined settings imposed on them. These settings hinder the society from looking into options of alternative self-realization and means of freedom of thoughts, words and actions, which is supposed to help the society learn to respect differences and praise diversities of opinions. The absence of this practice creates lack of tolerance, imprisons of the society in dogmas, and narrows its aspirations. Therefore, it is important to give the people a platform and a set of new techniques to help them regain their confidence and stimulate their abilities for change… change that starts from within them and not from the exterior.  

A siginificant accomplishment was identified in 1997 when Ashtar introduced the idea of Forum Theater  ringing a bell on various social issues that labeled “ Banned” such as incest, early marriage, violence in schools, honor crimes and others. Targeting youth and other marginalized groups, a forum production was carried out on yearly basis with a local tour of 50-60 performances each. For the first time, youth were offered an open platform to enhance change for positive development and create social leverage, which shall affect all aspects of their lives. The program moved on step forward when Ashtar started passing the forum techniques to youth community groups in 2003, then introducing the Legislative Theater in 2005 and regional forum theatre training in 2006.

Ashtar Theatre is currently organizing for the International Festival of the Theater of Oppressed “ Break your silence… Share your stories”, for the fourth time in Palestine and for a period of 3 weeks, between April and May 2013: to address social and political issues using the Theater of Oppressed technique. Several international theatre groups, in addition to several local community groups trained by Ashtar Theater from the West Bank and Gaza strip will be invited to share the duty of promoting the idea of the Theater of Oppressed in various areas of the West Bank and Gaza, targeting women, youth, high school students, university students and general audience in marginalized areas. Activities will also include holding two workshops in TO technique.

 Participating groups are kindly requested to cover the cost of their international travel; Ashtar Theatre will cover full accommodation and local transportation. The group should not exceed 8 members, and each group will perform their play 4-5 times during the Festival period in different locations. Interested forum theatre groups and artists who would like to take part in this Festival are invited to contact us to receive additional information about the Festival.

Hope to see you in Palestine. 

 : Images from The festival for the year 2007, 2009, 201

Theater of the Oppressed

Theater of the oppressed was born in 1971, in Brazil, under the very young form of Newspaper theater, with the specific goal of dealing with local problems-soon, it was used all over the country. Forum Theater, came into being in Peru, in 1973, as part of a literacy program, we thought it would be good only for South America- now it is practiced in more than 70 countries. Growing up, TO developed invisible theater in Argentina, as political activity and Image theater to establish dialogue among indigenous Nations and Spanish descendants, in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico… Now these forms are being used in all kinds of dialogues.. 

In Europe, TO expand and the Rainbow of Desire, came into being-first to understand psychological problems, later even to create characters in any play. Back in Brazil, the The Legislative Theater, was born to help the Desire of the Population to become law-which it did at last 13 times. Right now, the subjunctive Theatre is coming slowly into being. 

 We discovered that all those forms, independently where they had been created, could be developed and used all around the world, because they are simply a Human Language.

To was used by peasants and workers; later, by teachers and students; now, also by artists, social workers, psychotherapists, NGO… At first in small, almost clandestine places. Now in the streets, schools, churches, trade-unions, regular theatres, prisons…

Theater of the Oppressed is the Game of Dialogue; we play and learn together. All kinds of Games must have Discipline-clear rules that we must follow. At the same time, Games have absolute need of creativity and Freedom. TO is the perfect synthesis between the antithetic Discipline and Freedom. Without Discipline, there is no social life; without Freedom, there is no life. 

The Discipline of our Game is our belief that we that we must re-establish the right of everyone to exist in dignity. We believe that all of us are more, and much better, than what we think we are. We believe in solidarity. 

Our Freedom is to invent ways to help to humanize, freely invading all fields of human activities: social, pedagogical, political, artistic… Theater is a language and so it can be used to speak about all human concerns, not to be limited to theater itself.
We believe in peace, not in passivity. Above all, we believe that the Theater of the Oppressed is of, about by and for the Oppressed, as it is clear in our Declaration of Principles. If you agree with this, we certainly agree with you. 

Augusto Boal, rio de Janeiro 2004

Wednesday 1 August 2012

                                                                   For Adults only 
                                                                         للكبار فقط  

Rana Burqan ( in the center)
from left to right ( Sarah Habash, Miral Dalu,  and Hiba Abu-Lebdeh)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.
"For Adults only" is a stand up comedy show, directed by Bayan Shbib and performed by Ashtar Theater students. 

The show's idea has started when the theater students were bored and there was nothing new or interesting for them to do during the summer vacation. Bayan Shbib who is an actress/ director worked with these students for several times, she knows them, she knows their abilities and the titanic amount of humor and sarcasm they have inside of them. Therefore, she started a creative writing workshop, where every and each student started writing his/her own monologue. The workshop's outcome was fascinating, the students came out with amazing pieces that all were transformed into acted sketches and scenes. Some of these sketches and monologues speak about society, love, relationships, oppression, sex, knowledge, family, society's weird habits,and many other themes. 

The show was first performed for four times, many people came to the theater to watch it and much more came again to watch it for a second and third time. 

from left to right
(Siwar Abu Sham'a, Saji Dimairi, Yazan Makhul )
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.

                                                                                                                                                                     A year after, Ashtar Theater organized a very successful International Festival " A Step into Tomorrow." In the festival's third day, Ashtar students who performed " For Adults only" a year ago, prepared themselves to perform the show for the second time, but this time changes had to be done. 

(Emile Saba)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi
(Hiba and Saji)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi. 
Many of the students who were involved in the first show, have left for several reason, some of them left teh country for the summer, others had exams, and a few didn't want to act again. Time was limited, but the students managed keep the show going, they rehearsed, changed some scenes, added new ideas, new sketches and this time their monologues changed to become more like stand up comedy shows. 

The theater was full, packed with people, cameras, and laughs. The students, for the second time, they nailed it. Everyone was laughing, even the ones who don't understand Arabic. Energy was in the air, you can sense it in the actor's eyes and words. Shakespeare was their through his Romeo and Juliet modern love story, Ramallah's streets with its cars, smoke, and people were all alive on that small dark walled stage. 

From left to right
(Sarah and Hiba)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi 

(Yazan Makhul)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi. 
Even that the show ended, Iman Aoun, the Artistic director of Ashtar theater, saw that there is a great potentiality in upgrading the show and turning it fully into a stand up show that is able to stand alone with no props, decor or costumes.  The group gathered again and they started a new writing workshop to produce a pure stand up comedy show. 

                          Pictures from the show:
Sarah and Rana
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.

(Sarah and Emile)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.
(Hiba and Saji)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.

Left to Right
(Sarah, Majdi and Rana)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.

Left to Right
(Hiba and Miral)
  photo credit, Arine Rinawi.
(Hiba and Saji)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.

Bayan Shbib
(The director)
photo credit, Arine Rinawi.