Jenin – for some, this name evokes very one-sided and negative images: the violence of the Second Intifada, the reoccurring clashes between the Israeli army and residents of the refugee camp, destruction, restrictions and hopelessness. This comes to no surprise. After all, these are the images that most media outlets show when they report about the Palestinian town in the northern West Bank. Branded as a terrorist fortress by the Israelis and used as a symbol of resistance by Palestinian officials, young people from Jenin have little say in the way their lives are represented. Today, many of them have realized that their city is in danger of being left behind, and like so often, it is the artists who lead the change.
“We want to change the image of Jenin. We are artists, and we need space to breathe”, explains Mustafa Staiti, one of the founders of the 'Fragments Theater'. With co-founder Rawand Arqawi and a little luck, they managed to secure an empty building and ran a small crowdfunding campaign to finance cleaning the space. While the famous Freedom Theater of the late Juliano Mer Khamis, who was murdered in 2011, continues to operate in the refugee camp, the city itself has very little cultural activities to offer, especially for young people.
Fragments Theater has been operating in different locations since 2016, but this old Ottoman-style building in the middle of the city offers brand new opportunities “This will be our new home, and we want it to be an asylum, a safe space, for all artists from Jenin”, Rawand Arqawi’s eyes are sparkling as she explains the vision of the Fragments Theater. “We want people to come here, to breathe the new air and say ‘wow!’, as children do”. Both Mustafa and Rawand have been close friends of Juliano Mer Khamis and continue to live his dream: a space for art within, for and by the community.
forumZFD plans to support this inspiring initiative through an organizational consultation and project cooperation. With some luck and joint effort, Fragments Theater will celebrate its Grand Opening with a big bang soon. Stay tuned for updates here!