Search

Stratford show tells how a comedian brought laughter to a refugee camp

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 March 2018

Mark Thomas, Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Alaa Shehada will be appearing at Theatre Royal Stratford East Picture: Lesley Martin

Mark Thomas, Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Alaa Shehada will be appearing at Theatre Royal Stratford East Picture: Lesley Martin

Lesley Martin NO REUSE

A comedian is bringing the true story of how he set up a comedy club in a Palestinian refugee camp to the Stratford stage.

Mark Thomas will be recounting the tale in Showtime from the Frontline, celebrating freedom of expression in a country that has so little freedom.

He discovered the Jenin camp, which houses 17,000 people within just one square kilometre, in 2009 when he walked the length of Israel’s barrier in the West Bank.

But in 2014, when he was in Jerusalem for a book tour, he went back up to Jenin and watched a ‘simply remarkable’ show at the garage-esque Jenin Freedom Theatre.

It was then that the idea to run a comedy course there came to fruition. It took three years of negotiations to set up, eventually running for two and a half weeks in April last year.

“We had to establish who could do the course, what rights did people have, and what rights we had,” Mark explained.

He now tells this story in his new show, celebrating freedom of expression in a country that has so little freedom.

Two of the theatre’s actors, Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Alaa Sheheda, perform alongside him, despite encountering many trials and tribulations to get to the UK.

Showtime is a combination of stand up, repertoire and improvisation.

“I love it,” said Mark. “The thought barely touches your brain before it reaches the minds of the audience.

“It’s the ultimate form of freedom of expression.

“It’s radical content. It’s radical form. And Faisal and Alaa’s voices are at the very centre of the show.”

The three-month national tour is set to conclude in Stratford, and as Mark puts it: “Stratford is proper London. It’s not one of those stale bourgeois areas which have become barren gentrified landscapes of empty houses and property investment.”

He also praised the Raffles Square theatre and its creative director, Nadia Fall as “a breath of fresh air, going above and beyond what other companies have done for us”.

Showtime from the Frontline is running from Tuesday, April 10 to Saturday, April 21, with post-show talks following on selected dates. Tickets are £10-£24.

For more information and to book, visit stratfordeast.com or call the box office on 020 8534 0310.

Latest Newham Stories

17:00

Wapping head into the Christmas break five points clear at the top of the East Premier A table after a 1-0 win over nearest rivals Harleston Magpies at Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre.

Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre
15:00

St Bonaventure’s year 10 handball team bagged the top prize at the borough’s Handball Cup competition.

Newham

With less than a fortnight to go before the big day, donations are mounting for the appeal.

Forest Gate

The former Stevenage midfielder is slowly building up his fitness after a difficult summer on the sidelines

Charlie Lee

Local paper journalists may not get to review West End musicals or critique Michelin star restaurants – but they do get to enjoy the festive spectacle that is the local pantomime.

France
12:00

Clapton manager Jonny Fowell wants his side to bounce back when they take on Enfield at the Old Spotted Dog this evening.

Essex Senior League
15:57

Newham Council shook up its Christmas lunch service this month to help elderly residents beat the winter blues.

Stephen Timms

PROMOTED CONTENT

Have you spent time as an unpaid carer? If you are over the age of 25 and living in Newham, the Working for Carers scheme can help you take the first steps back to employment.

Hanson Fernandes’ journey began in 2015 when he arrived in London from Goa, India.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newham Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now