Join the Freedom Ride’s cultural events!

Throughout the 2015 Freedom Ride, there will be cultural events open for anybody to join. Here is a tentative program:

19/3 16:00 Jenin, Music with Al Kamanjati
20/3 17:00 Nabi Saleh, Intermedia play – a presentation by The Freedom Theatre School
21/3 16:30 Bil’in, Playback Theatre performance by the Freedom Bus Troupe
23/3 14:30 Al Hadedeye, Jordan Valley, Playback Theatre performance by the Freedom Bus Troupe
24/3 Afternoon Fasayel, Jordan Valley, Playback Theatre performance for children
26/3 All day Atuwani, Playback Theatre workshop*
27/3 All day Atuwani, Playback Theatre workshop*
27/3 17:00 Umm el Kheer, South Hebron Hills, Playback Theatre performance by the Freedom Bus Troupe
28/3 17:00 Aida Camp, Cultural event at Al-Rowwad Theatre
29/3 18:00 Jerusalem, El Hakawati Theatre Playback Theatre performance by the Freedom Bus Troupe
30/3 Afternoon Jerusalem, Cultural event

* An intensive training workshop with Larry Ng, graduate and committee member of the Centre for Playback (New York), artistic director of London Playback Theatre, member of True Heart Playback Theatre (London) and Encounter Playback Theatre (Hong Kong). He is a Practitioner member of the International Playback Theatre Network. The participation fee for Palestinians is 30NIS per day, internationals $30 per day, plus transportation to/from Atuwani if you are not part of the 2015 Freedom Ride. Email freedombus@thefreedomtheatre.org to register.

Playback Theatre

The wheels are turning!…

February is upon us and this year’s Freedom Ride is drawing closer! Here at The Freedom Theatre we are busy with the preparations and we are excited to soon be able to share this adventure with you. 

We now have just over 45 people who have signed up to join the ride. As we cannot accept more than 35 international participants, we strongly encourage those who want to join us and have not yet paid the registration fee to do so to guarantee a seat on the bus. The fee is $25 and can be paid either through PayPal or bank transfer. All details on our donation page. Once the payment has been made, please send a confirmation by email to freedombus@thefreedomtheatre.org.

This year’s Freedom Ride will begin in Jenin where the first two days will be spent getting to know The Freedom Theatre, the city and the camp, and perhaps most importantly, the participants will get to know each other. Then we will get on the bus and go to Nabi Saleh, Bil’in and on to the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills. The last days will be spent in Jerusalem. As always, it’s perfectly fine to join single days, parts of the ride or any of the cultural events that will be organised as part of the Freedom Ride (schedule to follow).

We hope you will join us on what promises to be an eventful ride!

Join the 2015 Freedom Ride!

In March 2015, students, artists and activists from across Palestine and abroad will join communities in marginalized areas who are at risk of forced expulsion from their ancestral homelands. Dates for the 2015 Freedom Ride are March 19-30. The ride will include volunteer work, protective presence activity, guided walks, interactive workshops and cultural events. Through Playback Theatre, community members will share personal accounts about the realities of life and struggle under settler colonialism, military occupation and structural apartheid.

See photos and read statements from previous participants here and read daily reports from the 2014 Freedom Ride here on the blog.

Please note that international participants pay a fee of $45 per day to contribute towards the costs of the Freedom Ride, such as accommodation and local transport.

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2014 March Freedom Ride concludes

The March Freedom Ride has officially come to an end. 

Many new friendships have formed within the group but also with local communities. Everyone leaves inspired and strengthened by the unique and life-changing experience that is the Freedom Ride. Palestine is in all our hearts! Mabrouk (congratulations) to everyone who has worked hard to support communities, braved our encounters with the occupation forces and given so much of themselves – be that through planting an olive tree or sharing through playback theatre workshops. This year’s Freedom Ride may be over but the Freedom Family will live on!

“I don’t know if there are words to express how I feel or the truth that sings in my heart. Today was the last full day on The Freedom Bus and I am feeling so many conflicting emotions. I am happy to be going home to my partner, family and friends, and yet I will truly miss the new friends/family that I have made along this journey. The injustices that I have witnessed with my own eyes is at times too catastrophic to explain, but I know I will do my best. My hope is that I will bring this truth home with me and share it everyone and anyone I come into contact with. I will carry this truth with me wherever I go. The stories that I have heard the people that I have met will always be with me. Inshallah.” – Meredith Pass, March Freedom Ride participant

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Day #12 and #13

Well rested and freshly showered, we leave for a tour of Bethlehem and a visit to Aida Camp.

We meet our guide and the first stop is the nativity church. During a detailed tour we visit all its different sections and we learn that renovation stagnated because all faiths involved have to agree for each step to be taken and it is not easy.

Upon leaving the church we head into town, it is a very hot and beautiful day as we walk through cobblestone streets with romantic little alleys leading into the old town of Bethlehem. During a quick stop for tea and coffee we get to watch a local shop owner make delicious bars of candy made from sesame seeds and nuts.

After that we visit an old market, a shop that sells sling shots (David vs Goliath) and in the shade of a narrow winding alley we buy Tamarind, Almond and Lemon juice from a mobile street vendor, “The Juice King”, and soon we all agree – he most definitely is juice royalty!

Our round trip concludes walking down the steep hill to the main road where we had left our bus, before continuing on we visit one of the best known souvenir shops where everyone finds one or the other treasure to procure! The shop harbours everything from religious inspired motives, figurines and carvings made of olive tree wood to Palestnian kufeyeh, prayer rugs and jewellery. It’s high walls are covered by shelves stacked up with the most unique and beautiful items.

Back to the bus we continue to Aida camp where we watch a brief film about the work of the local NGO, then we devour a delicious lunch and desert after which we get the chance to buy locally crafted traditional items from a small shop inside the building.

The tour through Aida camp is brief, it’s a very densely populated space and we are told that it is impossible to keep any privacy because houses are squeezed in beside and sometimes perched on top of each other.

We walk downhill and as we turn a corner the apartheid wall itself greets us with its hostile and grim counterfeit. The watchtower had been set on fire the day before and it is blackened and its foundation crumbles not only in a symbolic way.

To see the wall shocks us all, in disbelief we look at it, to the right the road leads out of the camp through a gate that has a gigantic metal key on it – the well know Palestinian Key of Return – and it is adorned in read writing “Not for Sale”. This part of the road is a different kind of Wall Street, it is known for fights and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli Occupation Forces and soon we find out things are tense today – later that day we learn that shortly after we left the camp, the occupation forces began to shoot tear gas inside the camp.

We stop by a wall inside the camp that is adorned with many murals and pictures that tell about the issues and struggles  of the inhabitants of this camp. It talks about generations of “refugees” in their own homeland and many artworks express the deep longing to be free and able to return to a non-refugee status. One of the murals is particularly meaningful and moving – it is the outline of Palestine and on each side the names of those villages are listed from where people were displaced to what is now Aida camp. They keep the list of village names because people here have not given up the idea to one day be able to return home.

Back at the guesthouse people rest and digest today’s impressions, contact details are exchanged as it is our final evening together – and what better way than to finish it with The Freedom Ride’s final Playback Theatre performance for 2014?

At 8 pm people of our group and also locals flock to the beautiful venue of the AIC, the Alternative Information Centre. This is our only indoor performance and it turns out spectacular and emotionally charged. As usual we begin with simple experiences and light or funny stories for the Playback Theatres to re-enact. Marvellous pictures are painted as the Playback Theatre actors breathe life into stories without prior talk – like fish in a bowl they move on stage and although each of them expresses what they heard individually, their actions tie back to each other.

The evening’s final story is a very sad one, a young Palestinian shares his memory of his father being murdered by the Israeli Occupation Forces and the aftermath.

Whilst acting out the story actors along with some people of the audience have tears in their eyes, one visitor needs to step outside, another bursts into tears after the performance.

In a somewhat solemn mood we leave to return to our guesthouse. It’s been a great but intensive day, some retire, others go out into town or sit outside the guesthouse.

On our final morning together we have a very special morning circle, reflecting on the previous two days. Afterwards we gather in a big circle and everyone is given the chance to remember a moment they had during the past weeks – the idea is that upon hearing about the individual’s experience, other members of the circle will step into the middle and express with a movement how they perceive what was said – the freedom family is having its very own playback theatre performance!

Finally an evaluation circle is giving everyone the chance to share their feelings, provide feedback and give suggestions for improvements for future freedom rides.

The common sentiment is that everyone who shares their experience, does so in a fashion that suggests that of course they will be part of the next Freedom Ride…

After our final lunch as a group, people begin to leave and things get very emotional. The March Freedom Ride 2014 has ended, but the journey of this freedom family will continue in our hearts and minds forever.

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