“They made me laugh, they made me cry! I have never seen the prisoner's issue addressed through art in such wonderful, sensitive, emotional and strong way.” Majd Beltaji, audience member
The Freedom Theatre’s latest production The Island opened to a packed house on Thursday, March 7, 2013 in Jenin Refugee Camp.
The Deputy Minister of Prisons from the Jenin PA came to see the play and brought a group of former political prisoners and their families to the opening. One of the former prisoners had been in prison for 27 years.
The Island is a South African apartheid-era drama that takes place in a prison and revolves around two cellmates: Mukhtar and Imam, who spend their days at mind-numbing physical labour and at night rehearse for a performance of Sophocles' Antigone.
The Freedom Theatre’s adaptation of The Island reflects the experiences of Palestinian political prisoners and the abuses within the Israeli prison system. The play also highlights the parallels between apartheid South Africa and Palestine today.
The Island is directed by The Freedom Theatre's Artistic Director Gary M. English who is also a Professor of Drama at the University of Connecticut in the United States: "The Island is political drama at its best with political ideas embedded within the characters and their experience. It is universal in its themes - including the tragedy of those who anyway in the world are unjustly imprisoned for purely political reasons, beliefs or for simply speaking out against injustice."
During the climatic scene when Muhktar says, "How do I count my days, 1, another day comes, 1, another day comes...” the audience and particularly the former prisoners broke into applause.
Theatre that matters is alive and well in Jenin. The free performances of The Island continue through Wednesday, March 13. The play will tour Sweden, Norway, Brazil and the US later this year.
The Freedom Theatre dedicates this play to Samer Issawi and all other Palestinian political prisoners.
Read more about The Island on The Freedom Theatre's website.