The Future Is in Tradition: A Dialog with Iman Aoun

4 years in the past, I introduced a delegation of younger theatre artists from New York to the ASHTAR Worldwide Youth Theatre Pageant to carry out an authentic present and take part in a cultural alternate with Palestinian theatre artists. For all of us, it was our first journey to Palestine. Extra importantly, this journey marked the start of an ongoing collaboration that has introduced ASHTAR artists to New York to showcase their work and collaborate with native artists. In July, I returned to the 2022 ASHTAR Worldwide Youth Theatre Pageant in Palestine as a documentarian to {photograph} and shoot a brief movie concerning the competition. Following the competition, I sat down with ASHTAR Theatre’s co-founder and inventive director, Iman Aoun.

Ash Marinaccio: I used to be so completely happy to see you and everybody at ASHTAR in individual this 12 months. It was an in depth name as a result of, as you realize, shortly earlier than the competition I used to be coping with COVID.

Iman Aoun: Oh sure, I bear in mind.

Ash: COVID has made it difficult to plan dwell occasions and has made the theatre really feel notably insecure. How has the pandemic impacted you and your work at ASHTAR?

Iman: For a complete 12 months, COVID was raging in Palestine. From March 2020 via March 2021, it was very arduous. We needed to keep inside more often than not. Within the second 12 months of the pandemic (2021), we went again to work and began making movies as a substitute of performs as a result of it was nonetheless harmful to convey everybody contained in the theatre. So, ASHTAR made movies and began to current them domestically and internationally.

Ash: The place are these movies? Are they out there for the general public to observe?

Iman: Properly, we made three movies: The Surprise College, A Lengthy Story, and The Gaza Monologues 10 years: The Dream Continues. The primary two can be found on our YouTube Channel. At present The Gaza Monologues 10 Years: The Dream Continues is being introduced in movie festivals the world over, so it’s not out there on the general public channel but.

The pandemic confirmed how efficient digital theatre could possibly be in creating and reaching new communities. We did the ASHTAR Worldwide Youth Theatre Pageant’s fifth version hybrid, which was dynamic. It introduced individuals collectively from areas of the world that we wouldn’t be allowed to have on the bottom in Palestine, like Sri Lanka and Gaza. Individuals who dwell in these areas are disconnected from us and may’t enter via the border, so it was beautiful to have individuals join internationally in that manner.

ASHTAR additionally obtained to be a part of worldwide tasks that we wouldn’t have been ready to participate in in any other case. Digital theatre actually undid borders and opened new dimensions of collaborations, and that’s essential. That’s one thing we’ll proceed to foster. We wish extra collaborations. We wish individuals to go to us. We wish artists to come back to Palestine and see for themselves what is occurring. It doesn’t matter what individuals see within the information, they’ll by no means perceive the problem except they’re right here.