On Wednesday, 13 December, the Freedom Theatre Jenin was once again raided by Israeli security forces. Artistic director Ahmed Tobasi, producer and general manager Mustafa Sheta, and Jamal Abu Joas, who recently graduated from the Freedom Theatre Performing Arts School, were detained. Ahmed Tobasi was released the next day, Sheta remains in detention.
In January, Yahya Zubeidi, the brother of the Freedom Theatre co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi, was arrested with no news on his release since.
According statements of the Freedom Theatre Jenin in the last few weeks three members of their company have been killed: Yamen Jarar, a 16-year-old Freedom Theatre participant, by drone fire on Nov. 3, theatre member Jehad Naghniyeh Torokman, 25, by an Israeli military officer, also on Nov. 3, and Mohammed Matahen, an usher and front-of-house staffer, killed on Nov. 9.
PEN international calls for Ahmed Tobasi and Mustafa Sheta to be immediately and unconditionally releases and for an end to the targeting of writers and artists in Palestine.
Sources: PEN international, American Theatre
Due to the outbreak of war following the HAMAS terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October and the ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli cities, the annual Isra Drama festival showcase was held online on 8 and 9 December. Recordings of the performances and panel discussions on the current situation and perspectives of the theatre community in Israel can be viewed on the Isra Drama website.
The independent Alfa Theatre in Tel Aviv/Israel is under pressure since many years (See ACAR post 2019). As a small fringe theatre with professional Jewish and Arab actors, working in both languages the Alfa has many times been threatened by governmental authorities as supporter of terrorists. The Ministry of Culture has now decided to stop any financial support. The theater has already filed a lawsuit against the ministry in 2019 and managed to get the cancellation of the annual subsidy reversed. Since then, Alfa continues to fight against closure and starts now another Court appeal. Avraham Oz, director of the theatre asks for donations for the Court appeals expenses.
Letter of Avram Oz, Professor Emeritus from the University of Haifa and resident director of Alfa Theatre