The choice of themes for the theatre plays produced by TDP is derived from the daily life of Palestinian children. They are themes relevant to the community or are based on (or inspired by) contemporary or traditional sources of Palestinian or Arab cultural heritage or literature. TDP creates original plays. To date over 30 original texts have been written inspired by the Palestinian reality of the young people who live here. Plays made in Gaza (where desert meets the sea) are clearly different from those made in the West Bank (where mountains meet the sky). These plays often start from what’s on our minds and what’s in the air. Themes come easily because we live in a society so full of bizarre and often unbearable problems. TDP also works from existing texts. We look to some of the great writers and poets from the past and present. There are few fabulous theatre texts in the Arab world where there is no tradition of theatre but writers such as Ghassan Kanafani have inspired us to create plays for a youth audience.
Touring of Plays
Plays are performed for youth audiences, usually in schools. Touring is organized with and in coordination with the education systems working in the country. We reach equal numbers of boys and girls schools. We perform for audiences of a maximum of 200 children to allow for good concentration and good viewing. Children are brought back and forth from their schools to the performance hall in an organized system of buses (a field trip). Each student receives a program booklet after each performance that contains information about the organization, the play, the team, and which often includes educational material. There are 250 performances each year.
Before or After the Show Workshops
Every performance is preceded and/or followed by a drama-workshop between the actors and the students. These workshops are a platform for the students to freely and individually express their fantasies, opinions, and understandings about the content and presentation of the play. Each workshop varies in theme but is similar in method. There is a question and answer part. This is followed by some theatre games that can be done from the seats in the audience. The third part is about theme and context. It involves getting interested students onto the stage for improvisations with the actors and with each other. Each workshop lasts between 20-60 minutes depending on the situation at hand.
Kids for Kids Plays (Theatre Club)
Kids for Kids is an up-scale version of the Drama Workshop made to result in a theatre play made by kids that will tour for kids in school. The program also gives TDP actors/drama-teachers new opportunities to work as youth theatre directors. Kids who complete the production and tour become members of TDP’s Theatre Club (over 300 kids to date). As such, they are invited to all open rehearsals and opening performances in their region. They are also called upon when TDP needs consultants for up-to-date information about kids in Palestine. These young people are informed that once they graduate high-school they are eligible to join TDP’s 3-year curriculum. The program of Kids for Kids begins with a one-month drama workshop. During this workshop, individuals decide for themselves to continue with the full production. There are 6 additional weeks of rehearsals. A tour of at least 10 performances for different schools takes place over two weeks.