Similar to Linda, Ibrahim Elali took part of the ‘Uprising and Homecoming: Middle Eastern voices’ mentorship initiative as a mentor for the National Center for Culture and Arts in Jordan. Being a Palestinian refugee himself once upon a time in Sweden, Ibrahim found a great deal of interest in this project as he believed it shed a humanizing light on the refugee crisis that Europe is facing. Ibrahim’s mentorship with NCCA included staying in communication with the group to help them develop their project, as well as having a site visit that allowed him to attend their rehearsals and activities, in addition to the general day to day activities for the group. Ibrahim also mentored the group during their trip to Sweden to perform their street theater piece at the Halmstad Street Theater Festival 2015.
In a recount of his mentorship experience with NCCA, Ibrahim Elali recalled:
Helping NCCA’s team get comfortable with performing in the streets and adapt to the street theater technique was one of the main highlights of my mentorship experience during the ‘Uprising and Homecoming: Middle Eastern voices’ project. As the group was mainly used to perform inside on stage, it was inspiring to see them perform in the streets of Jordan and Sweden. Being a representative of both cultures; the Arab and the Swedish, helped me serve as a liaison between NCCA and their audience in the streets of Sweden, where most of the work took place. When in Sweden, NCCA performance was in Arabic, which is a language that the Swedish audience didn’t understand. Witnessing the development of the group’s ability to perform in a language that the audience didn’t understand and working beautifully to reach out to them through their physical gestures and music was an exciting experience. I believe that these two were the main contributions that my mentorship had brought to the group. Touching on the refugees issue, our Arab audience was happy that someone gave refugees a voice that echoed their suffering. Many expressed their gratitude as they felt their stories were being told and represented. Our Swedish audience was also grateful as they felt NCCA’s performance at the Halmstad Street Theatre Festival contributed to breaking the stereotypes about refugees but some emphasized the need to “invite politicians to see the show”. Seeing people feeling really touched by the performances was really great. I believe that this opportunity was a chance for me and the group to learn, share expertises, develop professionally, and build friendships that will last a lifetime. In addition to expanding my network in both personal and professional aspects. On a personal level, this project gave me the opportunity as someone who was a refugee one day to contribute to changing the negative stigma that’s surrounding the pressing crisis of refugees in Europe. This project helped both NCCA and myself expand our passion to street theater and contribute to spreading a more humanizing picture for refugees fleeing their homes to find a safer place.
This project was funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery