By EMILY HERNANDEZ, age 11

Young people and adults at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin use arts to express their feelings about life under Israeli occupation. PHOTO: Ben Rivers
Young people and adults at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin use arts to express their feelings about life under Israeli occupation. PHOTO: Ben Rivers

Throughout history, people living in very oppressed circumstances have protested against them through creative acts.

The Freedom Theatre is a community-based theatre in the Jenin refugee camp in occupied Palestine. It offers classes and activities in performing arts and multimedia, including acting, psychodrama, playback theatre, filmmaking, photography and creative writing. Young people and adults at the theatre use arts to express their feelings about life under Israeli occupation. Creative resistance like this turns protest into an artistic event and helps people understand the needs and struggles of the community. “Art cannot free you from your chains. But art can generate and mobilise discourse (discussion) of freedom. Art can create debate, art can expose,” said Freedom Theatre Co-Founder, Zakaria Zubeidi, to Al Jazeera in 2009.

Not everyone agrees with this type of opposition. One night, Israeli soldiers attacked the Freedom Theatre, the Guardian reported on July 27, 2013. They broke into the auditorium throwing blocks of stone and arrested Adnan Naghnaghiye, the theatre’s head technician, and Bilal Saadi, its chairperson.

The Freedom Theatre offers classes and activities in performing arts and multimedia, including acting, psychodrama, playback theatre, filmmaking, photography and creative writing. PHOTO: The Freedom Theatre
The Freedom Theatre offers classes and activities in performing arts and multimedia, including acting, psychodrama, playback theatre, filmmaking, photography and creative writing. PHOTO: The Freedom Theatre

Artistic activism has been used for a long time, because it touches individuals at passionate levels, communicating what can’t be said with words. In the Nazi death camp called Terezín, a young Jewish musician was “playing so wonderfully that tears were running down our cheeks,” recalled a fellow prisoner. “These few hours of spiritual nourishment made many people forget the hunger and misery and long for another concert,” states Ruth Elias, who was sent to a concentration camp with her family during the Holocaust. “Meanwhile,” Elias continued, “for the artists this was a revolt against the regime.”

The Freedom Theatre is still thriving today, despite attacks from the Israeli military.

psychodrama – a form of therapy where participants act out events from their past in order to understand and process them better.