More than twenty independent artists gathered at Rawabet theatre, Downtown Cairo on Monday to read Gaza monologues.
The evening held in commemoration of the Israeli Cast Lead operation against the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009, was organized by Al-Warsha independent troupe, one of the oldest independent troupes in Egypt.
The Gaza Monologues is the brain child of the ASHTAR Palestinian theatre in 2010. In the aftermath of Gaza war, Ali Abu Yassin trained thirty three young people in Gaza aged between 14 and 18.
The workshop adopted various therapeutic methodologies such as the theatre of the oppressed, psycho-drama and psychological therapy to turn their personal accounts of the war into The Gaza Monologues.
Against a vivid backdrop of Gaza Graffiti, a photography exhibition by Mia Grondahl, each of the independent artists read one of the monologues respectively. Palestinian songs were sung in between.
The monologues were beyond touching, they opened a window on to life in Gaza, where even dreams are under threat. Between the bombing, great losses and horror, the monologues voiced the anger, resistance and admirable strength of Gaza's youth.
The talented performers on the night were experienced story tellers that managed to convey every moment of hope and despair effortlessly. Among those who stood out were Doaa Hamza, Fatemah Adel and Sherine Abdu.
The Gaza Monologues are memoirs of 22 days of living hell during which at least 1,380 Palestinians died, 431 of whom were children. Below are some excerpts from the testimonies of those who survived.
Gaza Monologue 1
I was up with my family till 10 pm the eve of the war. We were watching television. The phone rang, I answered it. It was my best friend Lana who was telling me she will drop by at 6:30 am tomorrow morning so we can go to school together. When Lana laughs, the whole world giggles. I think she loves me the most. When I forgot to do my math homework, she switched our copybooks and got punished instead of me. While walking home from school, we heard airplanes and gunshots, and I was so scared. Lana came close to me, held my hand and smiled saying “do not be afraid, death will not keep us apart.” The street got all dusty, she held me tight, in a second, and she fell off me. There was blood all over my clothes, I thought I was shot, it was Lana. She was lying on the floor laughing and crying all at the same time telling me do not be afraid, death will not keep us apart, and her hands fell from mine. I was scared and kept yelling and sobbing…. I hugged her and wouldn’t let go. The ambulance man told me,” let her go, God has granted you her life.” I fainted. When I woke up in the hospital, it was the first time she was not with me. Sometimes at night, I wish the phone would ring and that I would hear Lana telling me: "Let’s meet up at 6:30."
Told by Doaa Hamza
Gaza Monologue 2
When I talk with Palestinian children living in Europe, I pity them and do not wish to be like them at all; because they are living in foreign lands planting dreams in lands that they do not own. And dreams grow with people. I love people, games and life. I wish to be the president of Palestine for one day to emphasize love and peace among people…. And this is my first presidential decree. Unfortunately I am not the president. And that’s why the war broke. War opened up with a rain of bombs, we ran off school scared … when I saw my very chic aunt running on the street bare footed and in her pyjamas I knew that the war really began. For over a year now we are living the details of the war. Because television, the door bell and telephone are constant reminders of the war that I do not like. You know what, I even threw away my mobile phone. But what I fear the most is solitude. I keep thinking what will I do if the war broke and I was alone? How will I protect my grandfather? I‘ve always dreamt of being an actress. But this dream gradually faded because of the people’s view of actresses in the town I live in. They do not understand acting, despite of the great importance of acting. I can elaborate the suffering of my country and share it with the rest of the people. But I have another dream since this one is not happening; it’s to be a journalist. My third dream is to have a happy family, fourth is to free Palestine, and the fifth is to see the whole world happy with no war and no destruction, poverty, ignorance, illness, fear, and my sixth and last dream is to finish this monologue.
Told by Fatemah Adel
Gaza monologue 3
Out of our great love for chickens, we owned three chicken farms. I was not affected by the war like the rest of Gaza, until one day my uncle broke the news that the Israeli army shot all three of them and demolished one of them totally…killing three thousand chicken. We did not ask about the material damages, but what about the poor chicken, why should they be caught in this war to begin with? You know what? Gaza is Paris in my eyes, though I can see the grief, hurt and anger in Gaza. Gaza is like a Phoenix, a mythical bird that gathers itself from ashes and resumes flying in the sky once again. This is Gaza, whenever the whole world assumes that it is weaker, and dead, it stands up once again stronger than ever. That’s why I love Gaza and will continue to live in Gaza. In and with Gaza, I shall fulfill my dreams.
Told by Sherine Abdu