US Tour of Palestinian Play ‘The Siege’ Cancelled

The Jenin Freedom Theatre announced that it will no longer bring The Siege to the US this May.

seigeThe “US Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre” stated online:

It is with deep regret that we announce that the Public Theater has decided not to proceed with the plans to showcase The Freedom Theatre’s The Siege in May, 2016.

Regardless of the difficulties, we intend to present this play to the US public. We are disappointed, but we are working to find another comparable venue for the play in the fall of 2017.

According to Mondoweiss, pressure was put on the board of The Public Theatre, which was to stage the work.

The Siege is set in Bethlehem in April 2002 and foregrounds armed struggle:

April 2002. Spring in Bethlehem. A group of armed men seek sanctuary in one of the world’s holiest sites as the Israeli army closes in with helicopters, tanks and snipers. Along with the fighters are some 100 priests, nuns and civilians. The siege lasts for 39 days, paralyzing the center of Bethlehem and keeping tens of thousands under curfew. Inside the Church of Nativity the besieged are hungry and weakening. The smell of unwashed bodies and broken lavatories is mixed with the stench from the suppurating wounds of the injured. Two dead bodies are decomposing in a cave below the church. While the world is watching, the fighters are faced with the question of whether to struggle to the end or to surrender. No matter what they choose, they will have to leave their families and their homeland behind.

It toured the UK last May, and The Guardian wrote: “It develops into an unexpectedly compelling theatrical experience with a rough and ready energy, and, in the very act of its telling, speaks for the voiceless and forgotten.”

If you’re interested in Palestinian theatre:

There’s also a “Platform 4 Palestinian Arts Project” funding campaign.

And read Kate Wilson’s review of Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora

You can donate to the Jenin Freedom Theatre online.