The Remote Theater Project brings theater artists who are isolated, either geographically or politically to New York City for extended residencies. For the inaugural project, the focus is Palestine; designed as a cultural exchange aimed at broadening the experience of a select group of Palestinian actors and expanding the reach of their voices.
Six actors and one director will live and work collaboratively in New York City for two months (location TBA) in the creation of an original work of theater in English, designed to address New York audiences. The result will be a “devised” theater piece created by mining the lives and experiences of its participants and shaping them into compelling narratives. The project will explore the ways that US culture has permeated and influenced Palestinian culture as well as ways Palestinians believe they are perceived in the US. What does it mean to be Palestinian in 2017?
Additionally, the participants will sample a diverse range of visual art, theater, music and dance in New York. These experiences as well as the experience of being New Yorkers for two months will necessarily shape the work.
This is an artistic process, which removes artists from their environment, giving them a rare distance from their daily lives. The expectation of the “devised” theater piece is that it meets the highest levels of artistic excellence. Unlike many projects that have focused on Palestinian/Israeli issues, the theme of this project is US/Palestinian perceptions of each other and on the creation of a meaningful cultural exchange for the actors as well as their American audiences.
The project is developed and produced by Alexandra Aron, a theater director and educator. Ms. Aron has taught collaborative play-building in NYC, Latin America and Israel, and has worked with the Palestinian theater community in Ramallah. It will be directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi, from Jaffa. Zuabi is uniquely positioned to lead a devised theater process of outstanding artistic quality. He has worked successfully in this way for years. Admired throughout the Palestinian theater community, Zuabi has also worked with Peter Brook and has helmed productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Young Vic theaters in London.
The first phase of the project has recently been completed: a two-week visit to The West Bank and to Arab cities in Israel in March 2016, funded by the Still Point Fund. During that visit, Ms. Aron met with Palestinian theaters and artists and community leaders from a broad geographical area including: the Freedom Theater of Jenin, Khashabi Theater in Haifa, Yes Theater in Hebron, Al Rowwad Cultural Center and Al Harah Theater in Bethlehem, Ashtar Theater and Al Basta theater, in Ramallah, and the Palestinian National Theater in Jerusalem. The reception to the project was unanimously positive. Also during the visit, Zuabi confirmed his commitment as director.