RAMALLAH, September 10 (JMCC) - A London theater group acted out Shakespeare's Tempest for an engaged, if rowdy, audience in Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp, the Independent reports
True there were no mobile phones, a few of which trilled during the performance, in Shakespeare's time. But close your eyes and you could just about imagine that the children sucking ice lollies running up and down the steps of the Aida refugee camp's open-air auditorium, were behaving much as the Globe's younger groundlings would have done four centuries ago.
Given this was a young Palestinian audience presented with a straight Shakespearian text with only periodic Arabic synopses it was a tribute to the British Jericho House theatre's cast that so many stayed until the end.
And there was something irresistible about seeing The Tempest – its themes identified by advance publicity of territorial conflict, displacement and political renewal– in the shadow-literally-of the forbidding eight metre-high separation wall built by the Israeli military and looming over the camp.
Nevertheless there were times when the actors had their work cut out, with a (sometimes) frightening Caliban, drunken Trinculo and others making sallies into the audience to keep it engaged. At one point two Palestinian playgoers stood to greet each other with handshakes, just as Prospero was effecting his reconciliation (along with freedom, another appropriate theme of the play's conclusion) with his shipwrecked, usurping enemies.
For a second it was hard to tell who were the actors, who the spectators. Actress Ruth Lass, who as a beguiling Ariel, shushed the audience from time to time in character, at one point grabbing an apparently unfazed little girl to dance with her on stage, said after the performance: In Shakespeare's times it would have been like this. You have to work hard to hold the audience. That's the nature of theatre.