Written by Reem Saleh, New Media, DFI
Director: Khalil El Muzayen
Duration: 24 mins 13
In 22 days the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip in December 2008-Januarary 2009 led to the death of 1380 Palestinians. 431 were children. More than 100,000 people were displayed … what happened to the children?
Around 2010, Ashtar theatre decided to put on a play consisting of monologues written and performed by children to make their voices heard.
These personal dialogues were later performed in more than 36 countries all over the world. This documentary introduces us to the therapeutic effect this play had on war-torn children, all while they’re teaching the world of being under siege in Gaza.
The children describe the war with their own eyes, one of them who takes care of pigeons that eventually all died says “what have the pigeons done to them, they’re innocent”.
The children were trained over a period of 5 to 6 months with exercises to motivate their imagination and memory in what’s called “technique of the theatre of the oppressed”.
Towards the end of the workshop, they underwent creative writing exercises, putting on paper their real life experiences and these monologues helped them find international partners for the production of the play.
Children describe this experience as therapeutic and coaches mentioned that some children were scared of bathrooms by fear of dying naked, or wanting to be dressed up all the time in order to die looking good, when they should be thinking of life and not death.
The documentary’s contextual importance highlights some the artists’ initiative in supporting and spreading the cause, but it scratches the surface as an informative report more than a thorough documentary. I wanted to learn more about the children, visit their homes, and hear some of their monologues.
The concentration of the picture was on the process building up to the play rather than the children themselves. I asked myself if working on triggering children’s memory into recalling death around them really helps them overcome their traumas when they keep on repeating these stories with every performance.