Beit Jala: Concluding the First Stage of the New Writing for Theatre Workshop
Beit Jala – A.M. Qattan Foundation, 23 July 2018
The first stage of the New Writing for Theatre in Palestine workshop was recently concluded in the city of Beit Jala. The workshop was part of a two-year playwriting development programme (2018 and 2019), organised in partnership between the A.M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF), The British Council, and Royal Court Theatre.
The workshop aims to build on a previous training programme delivered jointly with a group of emerging Palestinian playwrights. The first phase of the workshop was implemented from 10 to 19 July 2018.
Led by playwrights Elyse Dodgson, Head of the International Department at the Royal Court, Emma Crowe and Dalia Taha, the workshop was tailored to support and help all 10 participants to possess the tools needed to write new contemporary plays.
The training programme has been designed for the needs of each writer, to explore individual interests, and ultimately ask each writer to propose an outline of a new idea for a contemporary and original play.
The workshop consisted of group and individual sessions. There was time for writing under the supervision of a team of trainers. The first drafts of plays will be submitted three months after the end of the workshop.
Nisreen Naffa’, Head of Arts and Literature Unit at the AMQF Culture and Arts Programme, said: “From our experience with the CAP-sponsored Young Writer of the Year Award competition, we have noticed that participation in writing for theatre is not as wide as in other literary fields. There are prominent novelists, storywriters and poets, but there are few playwrights. Therefore, we have decided to develop training programmes and improve the capacity of Palestinian writers with interest in writing for theatre. This workshop is part of these programmes.”
“This workshop was organised earlier in 2013 and 2014. We believe it is important to hold the workshop once again to allow an opportunity to new writers.” Naffa’ concluded.
Ali Abu Ayyash, a writer from Hebron who studied Drama and Theatrical Performance at the Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture, Bethlehem, said: “I plan to write a play on the obstacles man faces from childhood to adolescence, and from adolescence to adulthood.” Abu Ayyash stated he joined the workshop because he sought to develop the play he was working on and make it “appealing for the spectator.”
Fatimah Sabbah, a writer from the Upper Galilee, said the workshop made her accept to change her play. “Until the fourth day of the workshop, I thought I would not change the play I had written. Today, I abandon my decision so that I can develop my work and make it better.”
Sabah expressed her pleasure at taking part in the workshop in her first attempt to write for theatre. She is eager to continue what she started.
Elyse Dodgson said: “The workshop is interesting. We try to do something different and give trainees more time to write, think and dream.”
“We all participate in these works. We plan every day according to our daily needs. All of us are eager to know how these texts will look like after we come back and develop them in February 2019.”
With playwright Dalia Taha, the Royal Court conducts the second phase of the workshop with any writer who has completed and delivered a full first draft submitted in Arabic. After the plays are read by specialists, recommendations are made on each play and how to proceed and develop it. The team of trainers will travel to Palestine to work on the plays individually with the writers and do further group work to explore common problems. At this stage, actors may be used and readings done of the plays.
Partners organising the workshop will agree on the final feedback on the plays and on whether to proceed.