"The Island" by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshoma.
With Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Ahmed Alrakh of The Freedom Theatre
Directed by Gary M. English.
"The Island" takes place in a prison based on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held captive for 27 years. It is founded on a true story. Two prisoners share a cell; they spend their days in mind-numbing physical labor and their nights rehearsing for a performance of "Antigone," by Sophocles. Antigone, who defies the laws of the state to follow her conscience, is sentenced by her uncle, King Creon, to die for her crime.
"The prison experience is one most Palestinians share, either by being imprisoned themselves or by having a loved one put in an Israeli prison," said Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, one of the production's two Palestinian actors and a resident of Jenin refugee camp. Both Abu Alhayjaa and Ahmad Alrakh are graduates of The Freedom Theatre's Acting School and have toured throughout Europe with various Freedom Theatre productions.
The play is directed by Gary M. English, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Drama at the University of Connecticut, and Artistic Director of TFT from May 2012 - July 2013. English notes that "The Island is political drama at its best, with political ideas embedded within the characters and their experience. It is universal in its themes-including the tragedy of those who anywhere in the world are unjustly imprisoned for purely political reasons, beliefs, or for simply speaking out against injustice."
The Freedom Theatre was founded in 2006. One of its founders, Israeli-Palestinian actor Juliano Mer Khamis, was shot dead in broad daylight just steps away from The Freedom Theatre on April 4, 2011. No one has been charged with his murder. Mer Khamis once famously described himself as "100% Palestinian and 100% Jewish."
4th Street Theatre (View)
83 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
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