Day #1

The 2014 March Freedom Ride is off to a great start! We haven’t even left the courtyard yet and already participants are falling in love with Palestinian culture and people.

More than 15 eager Freedom Ride participants gathered in Jenin on March 16 to watch The Freedom Theatre‘s third-year students perform their final project, Commands.

The day after, March 17, more participants arrived. After breakfast with a view at the guesthouse we moved on to our Theatre School facilities for some relaxed and fun ice-breakers and team building activities, led by Ben Rivers, applied theatre practitioner and initiator of the Freedom Bus project, and Faisal AbuAlheja, tour manager for this year’s Freedom Ride. The group, now more than 20 people, then went on to enjoy a delicious, home-cooked lunch at The Freedom Theatre before embarking onto a tour around Jenin Refugee Camp, including the famous Jenin horse, an in-depth presentation at the camp committee’s office with pictures from the Jenin Massacre, and a walk through the maze of alleyways in the camp.

In the afternoon the March Freedom Ride passengers got a taste of Playback Theatre by participating in a performance where the Freedom Bus ensemble introduced the concept and the passengers themselves told very powerful stories that were transformed into improvised theatre pieces.

The performance was followed by some spare time for shopping or walks through town, dinner and at night a screening of “Arna’s Children“, a documentary made by the late Juliano Mer-Khamis, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre. After the film, there was a Q&A session with another co-founder, Jonatan Stanczak, today managing director, and the theatre’s location and stage manager, Adnan Naghnaghiye.

After a full day of orientation, getting to know Jenin, The Freedom Theatre, Playback Theatre and each other, the 2014 March Freedom Ride participants headed back to the guesthouse for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, bright and early, the Freedom Bus gets on the road! Next stop Jordan Valley!

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