AND HERE I AM
Palestine, UK and International Touring (2017-2019)
This theatrical and educational project is a collaboration between Developing Artists, the Palestinian actor Ahmed Tobasi, Iraqi-British writer Hassan Abdulrazzak, director Zoe Lafferty and the Freedom Theatre in Palestine.
A bitter sweet, dark political comedy based on Ahmed Tobasi's real-life coming of age story and search for identity.
Spanning both the first and second Palestinian intifada, we follow the protagonist from his transformation as resistance fighter to artist, journey as refugee from the West Bank to Norway and then back again.
The series of tragicomic episodes are brought to life with music, dance and animation. This is a personal and political tale of occupation and resistance; the hardships, struggles and contradictions of a young man growing up under occupation.
And Here I Am is a coming-of-age story that witnesses the comedic absurdities of growing up in one of the world’s most troubled conflict zones. A world away from the headlines and news bulletins, the play charts the intimate truths of Ahmed Tobasi’s personal odyssey, a tale of everyday human experiences against a backdrop of inhumane circumstances.
This powerful and unique piece of theatre raises awareness of some of the key advocacy issues facing Palestine's new generation, giving voice to one of the world's most marginalised community's.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Commissioned by Developing Artists, And Here I Am was developed for the stage in Palestine and the UK. The play, penned by award-winning writer Hassan Abdulrazzak and based on Ahmed Tobasi's own life experiences, first premiered at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre in June 2017, directed by Zoe Lafferty.
The production toured the UK, and has subsequently played in Egypt, Zimbabwe, Norway, Abu Dhabi and Palestine, where audiences are not charged. Alongside performances we conduct storytelling and drama workshops for young people. The show has been performed in both English and Arabic.
And Here I Am represented a unique opportunity for Tobasi to build work that responded to his life experiences and the wider experiences of society in Palestine and the Arab refugee community in Europe. In doing so he was able to reflect, explore and interrogate his own personal narrative and that of his community.
The project incorporates Tobasi's practices as a professional actor and theatre-maker, together with his skills as a youth mentor and community leader. The project aims not only to give voice to an individual but to explore a narrative that is relevant to many. It works to start articulating, and therefore process, a collective trauma whilst empowering, re-imagining and inspiring. This piece speaks of an ordinary man whose life was turned upside down again and again, and explores how he finally managed to take control of his future and create a positive impact.
A key aim of the project is to inform and educate the international community about the harsh realities and limited opportunities facing young people in Palestine, and also, crucially, to develop their understanding of the realities of life as a refugee. The project was a life-changing opportunity for Ahmed Tobasi, and is part of Developing Artists long-term commitment to broaden and deepen skillsets and opportunities within the Palestinian community in Jenin Refugee Camp as a sustainable legacy.
And Here I Am toured the UK in June, July and August 2017. The production visited venues including The Everyman Studio Theatre (Cheltenham), Nuffield Theatre (Southampton), The Lowry (Salford), North Wall Arts Centre (Oxford), Corpus Playroom (Cambridge), The Assembly Rooms (Edinburgh) and The Cut (Halesworth).
The production has featured in festivals including Shubbak Festival, The Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, The Harare International Festival of the Arts, The Downtown Cairo Arts Festival, The Boat Shed Festival and The Arab Arts Focus programme at The Edinburgh Festival.
From December 2017 And Here I Am has been touring the world, with numerous performances and workshops in refugee communities throughout Palestine and performances in Egypt, Abu Dhabi and Norway.