The Siege is an artistic reflection on a crucial event in recent Palestinian history, the Israeli army’s 39-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during the height of the second Intifada. While the dramatic scenes of the 2002 siege made headlines worldwide, those trapped inside the church were not heard. With The Siege, The Freedom Theatre tells the story from the perspective of fighters, clergy and civilians who lived through those fateful 39 days.
In a highly pressurised situation where choices become about life and death, the characters inThe Siege are forced to reflect on the moral and ethical implications of their actions and decisions. Through these characters, the play raises discussion on the consequences of lengthy oppression and the complexities of the wider political and social context in which the siege of the Church of the Nativity took place.
The UK tour of The Siege includes a string of performances in ten locations across Britain, among them the Battersea Arts Centre in London, The REP in Birmingham, Nottingham Playhouse and The Tron in Glasgow The Cut in Halesworth.
Receiving outstanding reviews during its West Bank run, The Siege has gained national media attention in the UK ahead of the tour and sparked discussion, with prominent artists such as Mark Rylance, Samuel West, Miriam Margolyes, Mark Wright, Caryl Churchill, Howard Brenton, Ken Loach and Mark Thomas showing support for The Freedom Theatre and freedom of expression for Palestinian artists generally. Read the statement by Artists for Palestine UK here.
Performances of The Siege will be accompanied by post-show discussions as well as workshop programmes, screenings and live events, with the aim of encouraging cross-cultural dialogue around notions of freedom, justice and equality. “I hope it will be a two-way experience”, says Nabeel Al-Raee, co-creator of The Siege. “The greatest thing for us is to meet people face to face and discuss our artistic project, as well as our lives.”