Brian Woolland is currently rehearsing his new play, ‘This Flesh is Mine’ in Ramallah, Palestine. He has sent us this fascinating message about his experiences.
‘This Flesh is Mine’ will be performed at Testbed 1 in Battersea, London, 19th – 25th May 2014.
5th May 2014
Good morning from sunny Ramallah!
Arrived on Saturday evening. The flight to Tel Aviv was uneventful, passing Israeli passport control a bit of a doddle with a British Council letter stating that I was working for them (although the young Canadian immediately in front of me in the queue was given a real going over, interrogated for a good 20 minutes). I was met by Edward from the Ashtar company and driven past numerous illegal, vast and deeply disturbing Israeli settlements. I had understood the situation intellectually (or so I thought), but it’s only when you see the scale of it that the horror really starts to hurt emotionally. I arrived in Ramallah at about 6 p.m. – to a very warm greeting. The apartment where we (myself, Michael and the 3 British male cast members) are staying is remarkably lovely. Very laid back, and everyone v easy to get on with.
Ramallah is very strange. Have you spent time here? It’s an extraordinary mix. Nowhere near as noisy as Beirut, nor anything like as commercialised, despite several incursions of C21st capitalism (a Palestinian Trade Tower with revolving restaurant on the top, where we ate last night – with views across to Tel Aviv and the Med in one direction, Jerusalem in another). If Rome was built on 7 hills, Ramallah must be perched on at least a dozen. No shopping malls (thank goodness), but some lovely restaurants, and VERY friendly people. But there are constant reminders of the Israeli occupation; and numerous ‘settlements’ can be seen only a few miles away from the top of any hill. So much to learn in such a short time.
I have been asked to do 3 lectures – on each of the next 3 mornings – but no more rewrites, thank goodness. Much looking forward to seeing the show, which I think will be really amazing. The English cast all love it, Andrew (who you may have seen in the Border Crossings trailer) told me yesterday that “Achilles is without doubt the best role I have ever played”… Quite an accolade. The problem now is getting bums on seats for the London production because it is so difficult getting audiences in to something that is only on for such short run.
I do think it is going to be an extraordinary production – and although plans for a major revival and international tour are already well under way, so much depends on getting a buzz about it in London this time round.
To see the cover of the play published by Oberon, click here.
A couple of moments to give a flavour of life in Ramallah:
We have the ground floor of this lovely apartment (which has cost Border Crossings the equivalent of £1000 in total for 4 weeks between all 5 of us, and none of us have to share a bedroom); the landlady lives on the top storey. And on the roof she keeps a goat called Susu. Every so often she brings down freshly made feta cheese for us…
Yesterday, David (one of the actors) and I we were walking in from the apartment to the theatre where we rehearse. We had just passed Yasser Arafat’s tomb (with armed guards in attendance) when the traffic was stopped for a flock of sheep to cross the road….
With very best wishes,