'Circus Behind the Wall' - Al Jazeera English

'Circus Behind the Wall'

AWARD NOMINEE: Palestinian circus attempts to inform and entertain with stories of struggle.

Rich Wiles | | Arts & Culture, Palestine, Middle East

Editor's note, 3/3/2015: We're pleased to say that these images have been shortlisted in the arts and culture category at the Sony World Photography Awards. 

"We do this because we need to create a better Palestine, this means politically but also socially." 

Nayef Abdallah was born a refugee in Faraa refugee camp to a family who were driven from their home in Haifa during the Nakba - the events surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948 which Palestinians refer to as "the catastrophe". From such beginnings, few people would have imagined that years later he would go on to take Palestine to the world through a very non-traditional performing art.

"This is not part of (traditional) Palestinian culture and at first many people asked 'What does this mean?' Some people were against the idea in the beginning." 

After nearly eight years of hard work, which now includes 10 weekly training classes, open days, summer camps and national tours, the Palestinian Circus School has become an established and respected part of the Palestinian cultural scene. The school has also taken stories of Palestine internationally in a new and unique way.

" 'Circus Behind the Wall' (the first show produced by the school) talked about the separation of families and lovers. We played behind the Wall on the stage. Internationally we perform politically to tell our stories," Abdallah said. Politics is in our lives, but when we perform here we also need to make people laugh and forget. It is very important to see a child smile. Palestine needs a lot of things, and one of them is circus." 

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