The Gaza Monologues and the Citizens Theatre Young Co.

Our Head of Creative Learning, Catrin Evans, shares some insights into the reading of The Gaza Monologues as part of our Young Company’s weekly session on 29 November 2023.

Two weeks ago, the Citizens Young Company Director and I became aware of the call from ASHTAR Theatre for theatre companies and youth groups across the world to join them in a global reading of The Gaza Monologues. A series of intensely moving testimonies created with ASHTAR Youth in 2010, after surviving the first war in the Gaza strip the year before.

Since the monologues were first performed, they have gone on to be spoken and performed by thousands of people across the world, translated into 18 languages - acting as Ashtar’s reminder to the world of the suffering endured during that time, and the ongoing siege on Gaza

Two young actors sitting on a stage with very little light in an object that appears to be a boat
“The Gaza Monologues”– (2010-2015)
Student play

Reading the monologues in 2023 – in light of the horrific attacks in Israel and the unrelenting violence being inflicted upon the people of Gaza and the West Bank – it was hard not to feel, at first, incapacitated by the weight of this call. The young people who worked with ASHTAR to craft and perform these stories; who took to the stage to raise their voices and be heard (like so many youth theatre participants across the globe are encouraged to do every day) are now adults, enduring another set of unimaginable horrors. Their words in 2010 were shaped to draw audiences out of themselves, and to shake the global community to do something. The fact that they are having to ask us again, over a decade later, to re-tell these stories, made me ask ‘what role can theatre possibly have?’

But there’s a privileged safety in this very question. As a good theatre-maker friend from the region reminds me, ‘in my part of the world, theatre isn’t about selling tickets, it’s about action’. And when you work in the field of community and youth theatre, as I do, this sentiment resonates. Every process, every workshop, every project, is about action – about encouraging whomever one is working with to act upon their instincts, to trust in the power of their voice and to not be afraid of being seen. And very importantly, when making theatre, to listen deeply to your collaborators. And so of course, when artistic colleagues reach out and ask fellow international theatre-makers to speak up with them and draw our attention - not just to the mass destruction and human suffering but also the dismantling of the rich cultural landscape in Palestine– we must trust in what theatre allows us to do. 

We decided to take the idea to our Young Company – our own project for young adults - and opened a discussion about whether this is a call they wanted to answer. It was not a simple conversation. Just like myself and Neil, they felt overwhelmed by the reality of what is happening at the moment. Did we know enough to perform them? Would we do them justice? How do we navigate a landscape that is so fraught with misinformation and accusation? But the Young Co. did want to respond. As an act of listening. As a way of reminding ourselves of the importance of stories that humanise and connect us to one another. To better understand that the story playing out on our screens in Glasgow, did not begin in October of this year. And, because stories should be re-told, until they are heard. 

Four  young performers are on stage, they are holding and pulling at each other
“The Gaza Monologues”– (2010-2015)
Student play.
And so, on the 29th November 2023, we will come together to read, to listen deeply, to imagine anew and to join with ASHTAR Theatre and so many other young theatre-makers across the globe, to seek peace, justice and equity for all peoples in the region. 

ASHTAR Theatre have a number of resources on their website that explores the background to The Gaza Monologues: