GAZA (Xinhua) – In the Palestinian Gaza Strip, 48 young men and women are learning theatre and acting techniques in an initiative to revive contemporary theatre in the Israeli-blockaded territory.
The students learn at the newly-established ‘Teatro Palestine Theater’ academy in Gaza City, the first of its kind in light of the scarcity of artistic and cultural institutions that cover theatre performances.
Laila Abu Aqlin, 23, found an opportunity to become an actress and develop her skills in the field through the academy, which was set up three months ago.
She also sought to increase her self-confidence and involvement in the community since she suffers from partial visual impairment.
Abu Aqlin, who had participated in many small plays during her college study out of her passion for performing, said that joining the Teatro Palestine team has increased her self-confidence and reduced her fear of a negative social outlook on acting, as a young women living in a conservative society ruled by the Hamas movement.
At the academy, the young woman was trained on how to feel the character she is playing without exaggeration, and voice exercises.
“One of my goals is to embody the difficult reality of the residents of the Gaza Strip in theatre… We also highlight the beauty of life in Gaza,” Abu Aqlin told Xinhua during a break.
Thirty years ago, there were 10 theatres in the Gaza Strip, but since the beginning of the first Palestinian Intifada or uprising against Israel, which broke out in 1987, the theatres were closed. However, some movie directors are now trying to revive the notion of cinema in Gaza.
Khaled al-Madhoun, 24-year-old member of the acting academy, said he gained substantial experience in acting during his brief training period.
Madhoun, a law graduate, explained that he initially joined the academy for entertainment with one of his friends, but quickly felt the importance of the idea.
He pointed out that the roles he plays in course of the academy speak about the reality of the Palestinian people, whether social or political.
“We receive intensive exercises on stage, high and low voice exercises, breathing exercises as well as techniques to recall the character I’m playing,” Madhoun told Xinhua.
Founder of the academy, Palestinian playwright Essam Shahin, wanted to form a performing team to stage plays explaining the Palestinian cause to the world.
Shahin said the academy, which he started three months ago, has been part of the local Widad Association as an incubator for the team, and now the academy works jointly with the Gaza Municipality at one of its cultural centres.
Shahin added that the exercises are part of a plan to cultivate professional actors and actresses who are able to teach other young men and women once they can perform on stage.
The trainings at the academy consist of three stages, namely theoretical, practical and a complete theatrical work which is produced at the end of the course.
In the meantime, Shahin and his team suffer from the lack of funding or government support, despite many parties have promised to offer funds.
However, young people are determined to pay from their pockets to keep the courses going.
“We have a message (to deliver) and we will not give in to the bad situation we are experiencing,” Shain proudly said.