I’ve just returned from a very fulfilling 10 day trip to Gaza and the West Bank. There were so many highlights to this trip for me. I am so proud to be able to witness the creative drama work which is being produced by Palestinian young people and teachers.
We were very excited when we heard the news (right at the last minute!) that the creators of the 3 top plays in last years competition would be granted exit permits to leave Gaza with Melissa and I, and perform their plays in the West Bank – a place none of them had visited before. They performed their plays brilliantly at Alrowad cultural centre in Bethlehem and at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin to huge, very welcoming and excited audiences, and conducted a post performance discussion in Arabic in both places about what the experience of creating and performing a play meant to them.
It was also an absolute joy to visit so many new drama clubs in different UNRWA schools all over Gaza. These were set up after the drama club leader training I’d conducted for teachers in July. I saw wonderful performances of plays that the children and teachers had created themselves, and observed teachers conducting drama based sessions with the kids.
Another huge highlight was being able to present all of the 150 children who have one of their plays published in, ‘Toothbrush and other plays’ with a copy of the book. Seeing their faces when I gave it to them and told them that their plays may now be performed by other children learning English around the world, has brought me more personal satisfaction than any other writing project I’ve ever been involved with.
If you would like to buy a copy of the book you can do so here. All proceeds from book sales go towards supporting the costs involved in this year’s competition.