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Photo of The Jenin Theatre Group with Mayor, Bruce Dowling. Photo GK

Photo of The Jenin Theatre Group with Mayor of Hastings Bruce Dowling. Photo GK

Resounding success of The Siege

Billed as “an immersive and jaw dropping theatrical experience”, The Siege – performed by the Jenin Freedom Theatre at St Mary In the Castle – proved to be a huge success. Gill Knight reports.

The Palestine theatre group, the Jenin Freedom Theatre, visited Hastings last week, enjoying an official reception with Mayor of Hastings Bruce Dowling at the Town Hall and, on Thursday, they performed The Siege at the beautiful venue of St Mary in the Castle. The performance, full of emotional energy, enthralled the audience who gave it three rousing standing ovations at the end of the play.

Nativity Photo with GK permission

Nativity Photo with GK permission

The Siege is an artistic reflection on a crucial event in recent Palestinian history: the Israeli army’s 39-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during the height of the second Intifada. It is based on real life accounts of the fighters, who are now exiled and living across Europe and Gaza. Through these characters, the play raises discussion about the consequences of lengthy oppression and the complexities of the wider political and social context. The powerful production used video, sound and lighting techniques to evoke the tense atmosphere within the church.

A Q&A afterwards, lead by Polly Gifford, HBC’s Arts and Cultural Development Officer, gave the audience further historical context to the play. Directors Nabil Al Raee and Jo Lafferty with two of the actors answered questions about the theatre, Palestine and cultural resistance

Photo Permission GK

Photo Permission GK

Polly Gifford said, “The Freedom Theatre had a powerful mix with The Siege – it was first and foremost a piece of atmospheric and highly charged theatre, but it was also very personal, political and social – and it was a real privilege to hear them talk about it so passionately after the show.”

The theatre was invited by Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which organises meetings and campaigns. “It is very necessary to keep a positive Palestinian narrative alive”, says Gill Knight, HPSC’s spokesperson, “especially in order to counteract mainstream media disinformation – and cultural events such as these do exactly that. More than ever, Palestine needs our support, as the people are still living under inhuman conditions”.

To join the group or get further information go to or visit Facebook.

Posted 10:33 Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015 In: Performance

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