In the decision by a country to go to war, children’s voices are unheard, and are rarely heard as the conflict progresses. The disconnect of the child from basic human consideration is so complete that their bodies are counted with their stories and voices largely ignored by those who make the decisions that place them in these conditions.
In The Gaza Monologues by Ashtar Theatre – a part of IMPACT 13 – a cast of four youth actors presented the stories of youth and children from the conflict in Palestine. Youth drama is the beautiful genesis of talent – these four are building their discipline and are doing so with attention and skill.
An integral part of this experience is that the monologues are presented in Arabic, with overhead projected subtitles. Hearing the stories in the language that built them adds a poetic connection to place and people. The sounds of Palestine as carried by language enables the audience to be aurally present despite our physical distance.
This performance also makes use of movement, and various props to establish narrative delivered through the bodies of the actors. The rawness of the physicality, the heart wrenching honesty of loss, objectification, and the candid things that adults do not notice add an important layer of understanding of conflict.
The stories of children echo with honesty – the piercing gaze of eyes that have seen too much. They live in a world where they have little choice but to accept the horrors adults have built. They accept, but they don’t always comply – seeing through the injustice and alienation built in the conditions of war. Keep in mind that much like our own North American countries, children in Palestine do not have the right to make decisions about the conflict brought upon them any more than they have the right to vote, or decide what to do with their daily lives. These stories are about that condition when it is taken from being taken care of to feelings of total powerlessness and lack of agency. If children’s voices were counted, would our world have so much conflict?
The notion of occupier/occupied, powerful/weak, us/them are reversed and turned around in a series of stories that do not lay blame, but challenge overtly how a world can work to destroy the vulnerable. And by these stories carried and voiced over and over all over the world, the vulnerable ultimately triumph.
If you go, and you really should – bring tissues. This powerful performance evokes strong emotional reactions.