Jenin’s Freedom Theater to tour US

The Jenin-based Freedom Theater has announced that it will be touring an English-language version of The Island in the United States this autumn.

According to a Freedom Theater press release, nine performances are scheduled for September dates at the University of Connecticut, Brown University, Washington DC and New York. There will also be a single performance of the Arabic production of the play, in New York.

Full information on dates and ticketing available on the Freedom Theater’s own website. This video is a trailer for the Arabic version of the play.

South African origins

The Island, written during the apartheid era by South African playwright Athol Fugard in collaboration with two African actors who went on to star in the play, is – in the words of the Freedom Theater:

set in a prison and revolves around two cellmates: one who is soon to be released while the other is serving a life sentence.

They spend their days at mind-numbing physical labor and at night rehearse for a performance of Sophocles’ Antigone. Antigone, who defies the laws of the state to follow her conscience, and her uncle who sentences her to die for her crime. Is Antigone guilty? Who decides?

The play was first staged in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1973, and has been widely performed since, including at major international theaters.

The Freedom Theater production of the play, originally staged in Jenin in Arabic, shifts the setting to Palestine, and uses the work to highlight and discuss the plight of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. This version of the play has already toured in Sweden and Brazil.



Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.