Why the name Theatre Day Productions?
The English name and the Arabic name “Ayyam Al Masrah” comes from the notion that one day each Palestinian child will have a ‘theatre day’ during his or her school year. TDP makes plays with adults and performs for kids. We also make plays with kids who perform for kids. TDP has set in motion both a youth theatre company and an actor’s training program.
What is the mission of TDP?
TDP wants drama, theatre, and creative activities to be a regular part of the lives of young people in Palestine, so that they can find their individual voice, their sense of self, and discover their creative life; in stimulating these activities TDP aims to provide the foundation for a peaceful development of Palestine, one with respect for human rights and civil society. TDP tries to realize this by working with the formal education systems and local organizations working with and for children and young people.
“I go to the theatre because I want to see something new, to think, to be touched, to question, to enjoy, to learn, to be shaken up, to be inspired, to touch art.”
Why youth theatre?
TDP began in the vacuum of power that existed in Palestine in 1994. The founders, who come from theatre backgrounds, looked around as the adults started to build the country. We met young people who hadn’t been to school in the years following the first Intifada. This was our first target group: these teen-agers. Theatre and drama require the participants to live in an alternative space, a space where the individual must exist in the group for achievement. Individual expression along with group dynamics is the starting point. Personal development, learning to learn, cultural expression, and social responsibility are all examples of what is required in the search for perfection and quality when working in the world of artistic expression.
Where does (and did) TDP work?
As pioneers of art, the founders of the company went in search of those far-reaching places with large population centers and with little understanding from the outside world. We began in Gaza which was always seen as a “hot” place or a “problem place.” We began with 4 trainees. Today, TDP in Gaza is a recognized institution of youth theatre and theatre training with over 100 people working reaching thousands of kids of all grades each year. Hebron is a big old traditional city where the huge population are rich and poor, villagers and city folk, peasants and workers, and refugees. With 99 villages around the city, and with the city itself cut in half by settlers, Hebron became our second big center. At the time, there were no sustainable cultural activities for kids and youth. TDP stayed in Hebron for 10 years before leaving the work in the hands of our trainees there who created Yes Theatre and who continue the work. We spent 3 years in Tulkarem and Nablus. With a few well-trained graduates resulting from that, we could not sustain this third region and we stopped in 2001. In Jerusalem and the West Bank the Pocket Theatre is a satellite of TDP.
East Jerusalem is where TDP has offices and spaces for visitors and guests and the mail.
What are the actual activities?
Training young adults (18 years plus) to make theatre and drama with and for young people.
Making plays with adults for kids and young people… and performing/touring them!
Making plays with kids for kids… and performing them!
Drama workshops of 3 weeks to groups of kids who come from the schools.
Kids making cartoons in week-long workshops which are then shown to the public.
Drama Festivals (collection of the best drama workshops and the best cartoons)
Teachers Training in how to use drama in school.
Women Training in Storytelling including forums and performances.
Training to advance the talents of graduates of the 3-year curriculum.
How do you work with schools?
TDP works closely with the Ministry of Education and with the UNRWA Education Department. The program falls under co-curricula activities (after school) and kids attend by choice with TDP and the educators organizing. Performances and workshops are organized on a school-to-school basis.
Why don’t students pay for tickets to the performances?
Read the below letter that we print or tell our audiences.
You hear one day in school that you have been invited to a play. Buses come. You enter a hall. The stage bursts open into a world of imagination and fantasy where all things can happen: things you can laugh about, things that might be sad, things that make you think about yourself and the world you live in.
Theatre is very different from television. In the theatre, the actor is there… right in front of your eyes. He plays a character made of real flesh and blood. He talks, moves, laughs, cries, lives, and breaths. He takes decisions and you are there feeling what he feels and why he does what he does even if you disagree with him. Although theatre is still make-believe, it seems so real that you want to reach out and touch the stage. Television cannot do that.
For spectators, theatre might look easy… but it is a complicated art form that takes time, hard work, and talent. The actors need 60 days of rehearsals (that’s 6 hours a day) before they are ready to perform for you. It takes about 3 months to make a play. The director, actors, musicians, writers, designers, technicians, and the management must all work together in their specialized fields to make the play happen. You might see 6 people on the stage, but there are at least another 10 who aren’t on stage and without them the play cannot be made.
Because of all this work, plays cost money. All around the world you cannot see a play unless you buy a ticket. The only way that TDP can present its plays for free is because someone else has bought the tickets for you. These people are the friends of Palestinian school students who believe that you should have theatre as part of school life and for now, they are willing to help.
How do you get your funding?
Theatre Day Productions is supported by a group of donors organizations from different and changing countries. Funds also come from EU and UN agencies. Local Palestinian bodies also support the work of TDP. If you are interested in supporting TDP contact us.
Do men and woman work together on stage?
In the early years, we had no women trainees in TDP. The male trainees were able to perform for both girls and boys school students. By 2005, we had our first play by actresses for girls called “Stories.” But, by 2007, we faced a situation where men could only perform for boys schools and women for girls schools. Then in 2015, we had men, women, and children acting in plays and scenes in various projects. In 2017, we produced our first dance/movement play with actors and actresses working together in the play “Identity.”
How can I participate in the 3-year training curriculum?
Every 2 years TDP makes a call for new training (social media). Auditions are held before a committee, and a selection is made. Call, visit, or write if you want to join the curriculum.
How can I to get involved in other ways?
See contact page and email, visit, call.