Al-Harah Theater is launching the very first “Bethlehem Site-Specific Theater Festival”, to celebrate the city of Bethlehem as the Capital of Arab culture 2020. The festival will run from Thursday 8/7/2021 until Sunday 11/7/2021 in historical sites and buildings in Star Street in Bethlehem and in the Old City of Beit Jala.
Site-specific performances emerged in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in different locations in the world, mainly in Holland and then in the UK. They are characterized for being performed in locations other than a theatre and for the audience playing a vital role in the performance. They constitute perhaps the most ambitious and revolutionary re-interpretation of theatre and performance devised in the twenty-first century.
In this spirit, Al-Harah envisioned the “Bethlehem Site-Specific Theatre Festival” as a mean to bring together the city’s millennial historical heritage and its contemporary culture to celebrate the occasion of Bethlehem as the Capital of Arab Culture 2020.
The festival programme includes 4 site-specific theatre plays that have been specifically produced for this occasion, the plays inspired are informed by the history and stories of the buildings and sites where they will be performed that go back thousands of years. The performances will take place in four different old courtyards and houses in Bethlehem and Beit Jala including: Hosh Miguel and Hosh Daoud in Star street in Bethlehem, Dar Makhlouf and Dar Sultaneh in Old City Street in Beit Jala
. These plays were produced after a specialized workshop on Site-Specific theater, organized by Al-Harah Theater and the British Council in Feb 2020, provided by the specialized directors Ben Harrison and Allie Butler from Iron Grid Iron company in Scotland. The four performances “Bulldozer”, “Al-Hosh”, “Dar 13”, and “The perfect Crime” are directed by four Palestinian directors who were selected at the workshop respectively: Faten Khoury from Nazareth, Faisal Abu Alhayjaa from The Freedom Theater in Jenin, Mirna Sakhleh from Bethlehem, and Adnan Bobali from Nablus. (The young emerging directors developed their artistic ideas in relation to the locations they chose.)
‘I am absolutely delighted that the work of the four directors is being presented live at the site-specific festival after the postponement last year; the creativity, imagination and passion of the workshop participants was outstanding and I can’t wait to see how the eventual productions meet their audiences.’ Ben Harrison
The festival’s activities also include performances by Palestinian distinguished talented storytellers; Sally Shalabi, Mohammed Haj Ahmad and Hamza Aqrabawi, in addition to an evening with the distinguished storyteller Denes Asad accompanied by young storytellers who she trained last year.
Two other productions “The Port” by Firas Abu Sabbah, and “It’s OK” by Al-Harah young actors will also be performed as part of the festival in Beit Jala and in Bethlehem. In addition to a music concert with artist Zaid Hilal and troupe.
Al-Harah Theater will also organize a forum for Palestinian artists at the Peace Center in Bethlehem, to discuss the challenges facing performing arts institutions and artists, the idea of establishing an Artists’ Union and the initiative to establish Arts Cooperatives in Palestine. A space to freely express themselves and talk about their issues.
“Bethlehem Site-Specific Theatre Festival” is organized by Al-Harah Theater with core support from the EUNIC Cluster in Palestine and the British Council, and partial support from “Reinventing Public Spaces in Bethlehem” project implemented by Municipalities of Bethlehem and Paris. The research and coordination of the locations and historical buildings for the workshop and festival were done in partnership with Dar Al-Sabagh Diaspora Studies and Research Centre in Bethlehem
It should also be noted that all the festival activities are aimed at young people and adults and do not children at all.