Narrative ohne Worte

Dramaturgie-Workshop in Beit Jala, Palästina

A six day-workshop at Al Harah Theatre in Beit Jala, Palestine, April 2015

The group was varied: experienced theatre practitioners and writers as well as those who had a first interest in theatre and were invited by Al Harah to join the workshop to find out more about their interests. During the workshop we were able to balance the differences, exchanging experience and curiosity.

During the theoretical part we discussed the zenith of Arabic culture, literature and philosophy in relation to the European theatre history.

Parallel to the theoretical exploration we trained a movement technique that is a combination of game and dance. The rules allow each participant to move individually, react to the impulse of others, form and leave short spontaneous group connections – all over music, without words. It frees the mind and illustrates a simple principle in life – that each individual is essential to form the large picture. Sounds simple but proves again and again as a very liberating structure for the participants. It forms the frame for the presentation of the scenes: participants make a decision to stop the movement improvisation and create the right arrangement for their scene with everyone involved in some way.

When the participants told each other biographical details (how their grandparents and parents met and any life-changing events of them) it made a strong impression on everyone how epic and impressive these ‘normal’ stories are. All of the participants found elements of Greek Tragedy or Shakespearean comedy in their family narratives.

One young participant, 23 years old, narrated inadvertently his life as a modern Woyzeck version. On this basis we created a scene involving all participants, which was ideal to illustrate the shift of dramaturgical systems – from the classic model to Büchners anti-hierarchical model in which we simply follow Woyzecks erratic narrative. In addition it made a strong impression on them that with Woyzeck the anti-hero stands centre stage.

We were able to create a safe space in the workshop. In the scenes that the participants created most prominent was the content, but in some cases they were able to employ various artistic means to enhance aspects of it. With more time we would have been able to create more distance and more artistic experimentation. However, in Palestine our time management was sometimes hampered by the participants’ difficulties in travelling as well as more serious events. One participant lost his brother in law who was shot dead in a demonstration. In the same protest the brother of another participant was wounded.

The developed scenes are being further discussed in other formats of AL HARAH THEARTE. Most prominently we are considering expanding the modern Palestinian version of Woyzeck. Lydia Ziemke is keeping in contact with individual participants about their writing projects.