On November 30, 2024, Nordic Black Theatre (NBT) via its institute Nordic Theatre Xpress (NBX) held a three-hour virtual reading of The Gaza Monologues, an initiative of the Palestinian artistic group Ashtar Theatre, aimed at denouncing war crimes against all civilians caught up in the war between Israel and Palestine.
The monologues originally written in Arabic by youths of Gaza, aged 13 to 18, prior to a similar war in the city in 2010, is proof that society never learns from its history, but also a call for decisive action from decisionmakers in the ongoing war to prevent a reoccurrence.
“Despite what you have seen and done so far, there is little to no change on ground, and the dehumanizing suffering continues. We hope that The Gaza Monologues go beyond our readings and engage decisionmakers and governments to create a real pressure that will bring just change,” stated NBX.
Translated into English and Brazilian Portuguese, and read by over 50 theatre practitioners and enthusiasts from across the globe, the 31 short non-fiction pieces were nostalgic, eloquent, poetic and often times variating between emotionless and emotional tones.
A clear pattern is set with all the reading first highlighting the young peoples’ pride in the city of Gaza, as the most beautiful of all cities, the desire to never leave it, their dreams for the future.
The pieces end however, with the writers’ emptiness, their reflection on the futility of living, a shifted perspective from dreams to living “one day at a time”, and “living solely in a manner to die well”.
Similarly, it indicates how wars can bring the worst out of us, like the inability to be share and to horde plentiful and the basic necessities, amidst a raging war and after; the latter a marked impact of war to imprint ‘scarcity’ on victims’ psyche.
Who would have thought that a society and peoples who have experienced such harsh realities of war would fall back into another 13 years after?
Theatre artiste, Vibeka Harper, who been working on a collaborative project with a Palestinian theatre director early this year said, “Today, all of them (theatremakers in Gaza) have lost someone. This week they lost contact with some of their authors. As theatremakers who are able to create spaces where we can gather, share experience and learn is very important.
“We didn’t think that we will come back to these monologues again 13 years later. We are calling on people that matter, that are on the ground, to really make a change, and to think collectively how not to let this happen again.
“We appreciate the people who came out for the artistic event we had a day before this reading. We, at the West Bank don’t know what will happen to even us. There is really an ethnic cleansing going on. But the warmth of people meeting and talking, is what keeps us going,” said Ashtar Theatre Director, Emile Saba.
Speaking at the event, co-founder Nordic Black Theatre, Cliff Moustache describing theatre as a tool to transmitting humans love for one another said the love shared through the translations and reading of the Gaza Monologues remains “the most important (message) for our world. And this is just the beginning.”