ASHTAR Theatre was established in Jerusalem in 1991 as a non-profit organization by two prominent Palestinian actors, Edward Muallem and Iman Aoun, who worked in theatre since 1977. It is a dynamic local Palestinian theatre with a truly progressive global perspective. It aims at promoting creativity and commitment for change through a novel combination of specific training, acting programs and services as well as professional theatre performances. If marginalized audiences are unable to come to our main location in Ramallah, ASHTAR moves its stage to those often remote areas to include everyone.
ASHTAR offers intensive theatre training programs for local students throughout the year, often resulting in performances on stage, but also equipping young Palestinians with essential skills that go beyond acting. In addition to an increased level of self-awareness and confidence, our training methodology equips students with leadership,
communication, and teamwork skills.
One of ASHTAR’s pioneering specialties is a highly successful genre known as Forum Theatre. Devised in Brazil by Augusto Boal, the purpose of Forum Theatre is to promote a more active dialogue and commitment for change within society. This theatre form engages the audience to interact on stage with essential social and political issues, transforming a commonly passive audience into proactive and involved
participants. In essence, Forum Theatre is a vital and engaging democracy-building tool. Through use of the integrated methods of Forum Theatre, ASHTAR stands as an agent of change in Palestine.
Internationally, ASHTAR has conducted 3 regional and two international trainings in its new capacity (since 2007) as the Middle East Regional Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed. It is currently undertaking further regional training in Yemen, and soon in Iraq.
In 2010, ASHTAR Theatre together with partnering theatres from all over the world decided that it is time to make the voices of our children in Gaza heard. The Gaza Monologues are personal stories of a group of children from Gaza who experienced the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in December 2008 – January 2009, an extremely violent attack which led to the death in 22 days of at least 1380 Palestinians, amongst whom 431 were children, and wounded at least 5380, including 1872 children. An estimated 100,000 people were newly displaced and houses, schools, hospitals, places of worship and cultural centres were destroyed.
The Gaza Monologues were performed simultaneously on October 17th 2010 by over 1500 youngsters in more than 50 cities in 36 countries all over the world. Ever since, ASHTAR Theatre and its partners and friends world-wide have continued to re-perform the Gaza Monologues and new participants and theatres are always welcome to join our global initiative.