Stories for Change

with words, images and music that, will present an insight into the past and present of Palestine

7pm March 31 
Holy Trinity Church, 98 Main Rd, Cleeve, Bristol BS49 4PN 

In the summer of 2017 Iocal storyteller Michael Loader was invited to take part in Chai For All’s new project, to retell the story of the Balfour Declaration; a short statement written by Arthur Balfour of the British Government that opened up Palestine, that gave way to the formation of Israel and the consequences of today. “At the time I was very ignorant of the history in the Middle East and hadn’t realised how these 67 words would also make such a dramatic change to my life”.

“You are ambassadors for your country. Thank you for coming to Palestine to take British responsibility” Professor Saed, Nablus University 2018

Chai For All toured their show of song, music and words in England in 2017, one hundred years after the Declaration was put into action and then, through British Council funding, to the Occupied Territories of Palestine and Israel in April 2018.
“As a storyteller I was in nirvana, land of childhood imagination and adult curiosity. When I saw the signs for Shepherds Fields, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Damascus Gate, Western Wall and the Garden of Gethsemane I had to pinch myself, many times, ouch!”

“As well as revisiting old stories and finding new ones, what struck me was the open welcome we received, which was often the precursor for a story”. A land where the lack of hassle and unwanted gifts was replaced by curiosity, an openness for conversation and mild tenderness. “Our conclusion was that Palestinians wanted us, as ‘outsiders’ from Europe, to hear their stories firsthand without interference or bias, and this gave us the focus to write a new show for summer 2018 and the inspiration to return in 2019”.

This April, Somerset Storyfest under Michael’s direction will be organizing a trip in association with Chai For All with musicians David Mowat, a Bristol Quaker who led April 2018, Katie Stevens and Pete Churchill.

“We see April 2019 as a way to hear and gather new and untold stories from Palestinians, that offer alternative views on ‘how we see things’ due to the narrow news feed we are given by sharing them in the UK on our return. In this way we are acting as messengers of these stories, amplifying their content”.
The project’s aim is to offer stories that paint a fuller and more rounded picture of who ‘the Palestinian’ really is, from what they choose to tell us, rather than the simplistic 2D viewpoint that we are offered. For example Hassan Muamer of Battir whose Land Survey resulted in a World Heritage Site Award UNESCO and actually stopped the extension of the Wall.
“We want to give a space to the ‘small voices’ that lie between the extremes”.

The April 2019 trip is threefold… 1- To offer a Stories For Change workshop offering adults a space to tell the stories they wish ‘the ears of England to hear’ as well as developing these narratives through theatre and music. 2- To offer a performance and creative activities to children and families in a refugee camp and children’s theatre festival. 3- To meet Combatants For Peace a co Palestinian/ Israeli organization using theatre as a tool for conflict resolution.

As part of ‘On The Edge’ a new series of monthly creative events under the vision of Reverend Nigel Thomas, a one hour presentation with Q&A and Middle Eastern refreshments will tell the story of the group’s work so far through storytelling and poetry from Michael Loader, images and live music from David Mowat (trumpet) and Knud Stuwe (oud and guitar).

Presentation at Holy Trinity Church, Cleeve at 7pm – all donations will go towards the April 2019 project. Watch this space for the post trip show!

submitted by Tom Allport