Verbatim Theatre Project, Alrowwad Centre, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, Palestine, 25 July 2017.

by ray goodlass

Only two days to performance day! On the whole today was quite encouraging, with every story teller doing either as good as they’ve ever been or far better.

We had all bar two of the students/actors today, with two of the young women being absent. I knew Fatima couldn’t come because of a university commitment, and had okayed that, but why Lara didn’t show I don’t know.

I also initiated ‘George’ into the Camera-person’ role today. That’s an onstage camera operator purely there to create the illusion that the show is supposed to be the taping of a TV interview doco. We won’t be using any of its footage. ‘George’ isn’t his real name, but as he looks so much like George Michael (the slightly older version) I promptly nicknamed him such. He loved it and it struck with everyone. Goodness, that was almost four weeks ago! ‘George’ hasn’t been a very good student, with fluctuating attendance, focus and concentration, but he’s a nice guy and keen to be involved, so this makes him part of the team without giving him a significance he hasn’t earned.

The other innovation today was for me to introduce formal ‘Notes’ from the director after reach run. Of course, there’s been ‘notes’ all the time since the story telling started, but now we are doing several runs each day it’s formal notes after each one. The concept of quietly taking the notes without yelling at other after each one is new to some of them (but by no means all), but even the novices are quickly learning.

I think at this stage we are in as good a place as we could be, given all the constraints, though I wish tomorrow (Wednesday) wasn’t Alrowwad’s day off. The show will certainly will live up to my title, ‘The Nakba is not only a memory, it is ongoing’, as the stories really do bear witness, some of them with a strong emotional punch.