UPDATED, 1/8/24: While Jamal Abu Joas has been released, Freedom Theatre Producing Director Mustafa Sheta & Chair of the Freedom Theatre Board Bilal al Sadi remain detained by the IDF. We're amplifying the original call to action (see below) with a new action on January 13th: the Cultural Resistance March for Palestine.
From the organizers: "We are calling all New York theater artists, makers, musicians, and cultural workers to join the growing movement against cultural genocide in Palestine! Show up and show out for the Cultural Resistance March on Saturday, January 13th at 5PM, at the Bryant Park Library Steps.
Join the interactive march with performances organized by individuals of the New York theater and artist community in solidarity with The Freedom Theatre and the global movement for the liberation, safety, and rights of Palestinian people and artists living under occupation. We demand the release of Freedom Theatre Producing Director Mustafa Sheta & Chair of the Freedom Theatre Board Bilal al Sadi who were violently detained by IDF. We rise up against the silencing and targeted attacks on artists of Palestine.
All are welcome. Bring your artwork, instruments, puppets, and movement! Use your creative voices to protect storytellers and imagine collective liberation now.
Sponsored by Noor Theater, National Queer Theater, Friends of The Freedom Theatre, and Al Límite Collective. This action builds on the Astor Place Rally held December 19th in response to the raid on The Freedom Theater by Israeli soldiers on December 13th."
Support the Freedom Theatre
TCG has always stood in solidarity with theatre workers facing censorship and unjust detention. From advocating for the freedom of Belarus Free Theatre’s artists in 2010 to supporting P2 visas for Afghans in 2021, we’ve amplified the leadership of those most impacted to support our colleagues across borders. We believe that our mission, “to lead for a just and thriving theatre ecology,” means advocating for the freedom and safety of theatre people everywhere.
That’s why we’re calling on all theatre people to advocate for the release of our colleagues at The Freedom Theatre of Jenin.
On Wednesday, 13th December, Israeli soldiers raided and destroyed the offices of The Freedom Theatre, and violently abducted artistic director Ahmed Tobasi, producer Mustafa Sheta, and theatre graduate Jamal Abu Joas from their homes. Tobasi has since been released, but his colleagues remain detained. You can read a more detailed account in American Theatre here.
Today, December 19, theatre people in the NYC area can join the NYC Theatre Community Organizes Rapid Response Rally for Freedom Theatre of Jenin at Astor Place from 5-7pm ET. In the words of the organizers, this is an opportunity for us “to stand in solidarity with The Freedom Theatre of Jenin, Palestine, and protest the continued detainment of its
members, Mustafa Sheta and Jamal Abu Joas.”
For those who can’t attend, you may wish to sign this open letter of support for the release of the artists at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin: The Freedom Theatre is also keeping this webpage updated with events as they unfold, along with further ways to support the theatre workers impacted.
Ranin Odeh, who runs children’s programming with Freedom Theatre, noted in an interview that children heal from trauma through art, saying “they need a place where they can fly.” We hope that theatre people will review the ways to support the release of Freedom Theatre workers so they can continue to provide healing spaces for everyone in their community.
Finally, we know that the violence in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel is contributing to surges in Islamophobia and antisemitism everywhere, and we encourage theatre people to read and share our resources on ending antisemitism and ending Islamophobia, and to read our recent coverage on how MENA and Jewish theatremakers are responding.