This weeks post is by long term HUP volunteer and drama specialist in Gaza, Haneen Khaled. Over to you Haneen….
When doors are closed to us , when the entire world narrows to us, when life tightens around us , we have to fly in the sky of our minds to face every fear , to cross barriers and ease obstacles and reach a point where we can keep soaring to accomplish our dreams. In such circumstances seeking our dreams is a kind of survival.
Recently the world has been severely shaken by the Covid 19 pandemic and schools have been closed everywhere including Gaza and all over Palestine, so everyone finds themselves having to survive in isolation .
Picasso once said, “ Inspiration exists , but it has to find you working “. As a teacher , I think I should be always a source of inspiration for my students especially if everything around them is frustration . And I believe that the best way to do this is through creating a space for them and letting them put their bodies , emotions and hearts into this space. This can be done through drama.
Drama enhances the creativity the students have in their minds and enables them to connect together even if they were distant and isolated. It helps them to establish a virtual theatre in their imagination where they can get together to perform plays even if they are separated .
The Hands Up Project has a golden history of adaptation to all kinds of situations. Through remote theatre, it has helped kids reach out to the outer world and to be heard very clearly all over the globe . Throughout the pandemic it has implemented facebook live storytelling sessions that everyone can access while they are locked at home , and also zoom ones to connect the kids in Palestine with their counterparts in other parts of the world, helping them to move forward communicatively with their English and share something in common at this critical time.
Nick Bilbrough wrote about this in his post, Locked down but Looking out, emphasising the importance of keeping on track with language learning through drama and communicative activities. Then, interestingly, he suggested the brilliant idea of the SaturPLAY Live.
This is an innovative way to help kids in Palestine perform the plays they created themselves through zoom to audiences all over the world. It also creates young drama specialists by enabling the kids to talk about the impact of drama on their learning and development afterwards. It’s really brilliant that those kids can see themselves going live and be seen by everyone all over the world as if they were stars in the field of drama.
We did our SaturPLAY live about ‘Oh, my home” a couple of weeks ago and it was really a remarkable experience . I worked with the main character of the play – Nour Ziada and we adapted the script into a kind of story through doing many training sessions to see how she could perform the whole play using just one character from home under lockdown . Masses of hard work was done behind the screens to let this come to the light.
Nour showed passion and creativity in doing this and she managed to perform it through the SaturPLAY live on the due date amazingly. She performed the play using different styles of storytelling , puppets and the wonderful green screen . Afterwards , we all came together with all the characters to let them talk about what it meant to everyone to perform a play and how valuable it was to learn using drama. They spoke loudly and clearly, showing confidence and proving that life is amazing in spite of all the troubles around.
Haya Orouq (15) , another of the students who participated in our SaturPLAY live session wrote this about the experience:
“We worked with the Handsup this year and it.was beautiful on how to write stories and turn them into scripts to represent them as a play. In the first meeting we met with Miss Haneen, who divided us into groups and each group has a leader who has participated in the project for more than a year and has an experience in.this and then the group meets to choose the idea about the story and then they all of them write the story, then convert it to a piece of.play. It is possible to ask the teacher for help to improve it. After that, the leader meets with her group to give them roles and remains to meet them until they master the roles. It was a time full of enthusiasm, fun and cooperation between the students. I was waiting.for.the drama class as if it’s my birthday!
As for me personally, I wrote two plays with a group in the first play, its name is Oh Palestine and the second is the ladies first, but unfortunately we did not represent the second play and presented it permanently because of the closure of the school due to.corona virus, but it does not deny that it was one of the most beautiful times and one of my greatest achievements.
The Saturplay live was amazing when I performed the line without seeing.me then I talked about my journey to Jerusalem when we won last.year and we performed.it in.Jerusalem . and also I felt I am special at drama because I.can talk and be a self confident about drama”