Tayma Shoaibi, age 16, peeks out from behind the curtain at the Ramallah Municipal Theatre for ASHTAR Theatre Youth Company’s debut production of “I’ll Betray My Country." She is playing one of the lead roles in tonight's performance and like all her cast mates is excited to share the show they have been rehearsing for over a year. "We are young people, yet we are dealing with so much," she says. "It’s not only hard to live because of the occupation. It’s hard to live because of the government. It’s hard to live because of the higher authorities. It’s hard to live because of the loneliness and the social standards. And we want to express these opinions creatively.”

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Rehearsing the Future: ASHTAR International Youth Theatre Festival

Ash Marinaccio | Palestine

Organization: Docbloc (docbloc.org)

Founded in 1991 by Palestinian actors Iman Aoun and Edward Muallem, the ASHTAR Theatre is the oldest youth theatre in the Palestinian West Bank. The bi-annual ASHTAR International Youth Theatre Festival brings together young people worldwide to participate in collaborative theatre-making and performances to create systemic change.

These photos were made during rehearsals and workshops for the 2022 ASHTAR International Youth Theatre, which featured young artists and theatre companies from the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and across the West Bank.

“I always say that one of the things we want to create, if we do not create theatre makers, we create professional citizens,” remarks Iman Aoun, ASHTAR Theatre's Founding Artistic Director. She continues, “we give our young people a platform where they discover their voice and learn about themselves before they learn about life."

These photographs are part of a long-term project about theatre and culture makers in areas of war and conflict. It aims to document the impact of theatre and culture makers in their respective communities.

These portraits are an excerpt from my Ph.D. dissertation, "Rehearsing the Revolution: Process, Politics, and Identity Formation in Nonfiction Theatre-making in Areas of War and Conflict," which investigates nonfiction theatre-making in and about war.

Funding for various components of this project was made possible by grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, CUNY Center for Humanities "NY Connects" Grant and the Publics Lab at CUNY Graduate Center.

Support for this project provided by the Puffin Foundation

Additional support for this project was provided by CUNY Graduate Center's DSRG Grant and Docbloc 

To learn more about ASHTAR Theatre and support their work visit their website at ashtar-theatre.org

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