Verbatim Theatre Project at Alrowwad Centre, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, Saturday 8 July 2017

by ray goodlass

I’m really stoked today because I’ve hit on the concept and scenario for this verbatim theatre piece, after what seems like a very long time wondering if I could ever make it work.

It will be a ‘play within a play’, with the play within being a TV documentary about the ongoing consequences of the Israeli conquest of much of Palestine in 1948 (the Nakba or catastrophe in English), and the displacement of the residents, whose descendants are still living in the camps, 70 years on. Its core will be interviews by the hosts (two of my actors) of the descendants of the original refugees (i.e. the rest of my student cast). Sort of like SBS’s ‘Dateline’ meets ‘Insight’.

As I’d asked for the project to be filmed so it could be taken back to Australia so as to form the first part of an interactive exchange between young people in both countries this concept will fit the bill very well.

I’ve drafted the opening of the TV show to use as an audition piece for the two hosts (one male, one female), which we will do on Monday. It reads as follows:

Host 1: Good evening, and welcome to ‘This Year Today’, our weekly look at significant anniversaries around the world.

Host Two: It is 70 years since the Nakba. What is life like for the descendants of those Palestinians who fled the conquering Israelis 3 score and 10 years ago?

Host 2: We’ll find our by visiting one of those refugee camps that are still there. So join us as we talk to young people at the Alrowwad Theatre & Culture Centre in the Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, Palestine.

We’ll be auditioning on Monday, and tomorrow we’ll here more stories to add to the two we had today. I was very pleased with those two students who brought stories – one was a good political analysis of the situation, and the other an audio interview of the student’s grandfather’s memories of the Nakba’s immediate aftermath.  Great work!

I’ve adopted a working title for the project: ‘The Nakba is not only a memory, it is ongoing’.