Last week we began the second stage of the community theatre project, where the girls started to experiment with acting. The girls began with drama warm-ups led by the student interns Dana and Sherri from the non-profit organization Ayalim. Dana and Sherri live in Yachini, a neighboring village of Sderot. This week the group of 26 girls began to translate the reality of the security situation to a real drama.
The girls arrived at their scheduled time to a relaxing room in the Sderot high school. At first they were asked to choose a specific object from a group of objects that were placed on the table and to relate a story about that item representing the reality of the security situation. Amongst the articles that were placed on the table there was a Qassam rocket that two brothers prepared during Operation Cast Lead, keys, a hat, a telephone book, white out, a piece of red material, a hammer and more.
Video: Eliran Chen
I was astonished to see the numerous stories that were raised in regard to the security situation. Ra’aya, a 15 year old girl from one of the religious high schools opened up the first round. Ra’aya chose the hammer and the red material. She wrapped the material around her head like an Arabic headdress and held the hammer in her hands. I asked her to share her reasons with the group for choosing these items and she began to relate the following: “One time, on my way home from school I saw an Arab working in our neighborhood.
I felt an unbearable hatred toward him, I wanted to kill him”. I asked Ra’aya why she felt this way. This was after some research that I performed in her home where I heard a painful and heartbreaking story. Ra’aya was a child of an immigrant family that moved to Israel when she was born. Together with their cousins they created a beautiful extensive family in the city of Sderot. Two years ago, Ra’aya’s uncle was killed in a terrorist attack at the Karni crossing. Ever since that tragedy, Ra’aya’s family cares for his widow and their children.
Ra’aya chose to present this story to the entire group, thereby releasing some of her difficulties in coping with terror. An additional story was shared with us by Leora, from the Amit religious high school. Leora chose the keys. “One day I came home without my keys and my mother was supposed to come home early. When I got to the entrance of my house I heard the red alert siren. At first I was quiet but I soon began to cry. I had a feeling of helplessness and a paralyzing fear. I felt absolutely terrible. My mother arrived a few minutes later and I fell apart on her.
Photographer: Hamutal Ben Shitrit
An additional chilling story that arose followed Tal’s choice of the newspaper which she decided to turn into a notebook. Fifteen year old Tal from the Amit high school had her introduction to terror with a serious terror attack of two of her good friends three years ago from a Qassam rocket. Her two friends were on their way to study for an exam when the red alert sounded. They were on their way to another friend and they didn’t manage to get to the protected room in time.
The two of them were very seriously wounded and underwent extensive rehabilitation. A few other girls also connected to this story and shared their experiences of those first minutes when they were informed of the injuries of these two girls. Every girl in the group began to relate how deeply they were connected with these girls and how the security situation robbed them of the innocence of their adolescent years. Dana, one of the student interns, also chose to share her feelings with the group and chose the newspaper. Dana lives in northern Israel in the town of Amuka. Dana is familiar with Sderot from the Israeli media. Currently, she is volunteering in Sderot and is intimately and painfully aware of the situation in ways that words cannot adequately explain…. Eden closed this task with her choice of the American flag.
Eden experienced a grueling traumatic incident in connection with the Qassam rockets. Her brother-in-law was mortally wounded when he was burned by a Qassam at the time of its landing. This happened indirectly when the red alert began. He began to run to the protected room, but he was concerned about his one and a half year old daughter whom he thought was still in her room, and decided to run there instead. The Qassam had fallen in the room and created a tongue of fire that burned him and mortally wounded him. It was fortunate that his daughter was in her mother’s arms and she ran with the baby to a protected area. He underwent extensive therapy and today he is coping with trauma stress syndrome. Eden’s choice of the flag was to represent the assistance that her family received at that time. The first task concludes here.
Photographer: Hamutal Ben Shitrit
An additional task for this meeting was to choose from one of the stories that were raised
and to enact it before the group.
I prepared the props ahead of time – colored material and theatre accessories – in order to create an environment, dress up, and truly experience the story. Ra’aya, Ortal and Rotem chose to act out Ra’aya’s story. An additional play in the other religious high school was Eden’s, Sivan’s and Sabata. They enacted the experience of the students that struggle with the sirens on the way home from school.
These high school girls chose to portray a group of elderly people on their way to the market. They dressed up as old people with baskets and imitated the typical heavy accent of the elderly in Sderot. This was an excellent scene that will be a great asset in the future when writing the play. Due to lack of time we were forced to end the session before all of the groups enacted their experiences. With G-d’s help we will have another meeting on Pesach in order to continue to forge a team spirit and after Pessach we will begin rehearsals for the play. I felt tremendous satisfaction after this session. The stories began to pop up and come to the surface in a way far better than we imagined. The girls cooperated beautifully. It is clear that we have an excellent group that will properly fulfill the public relations role in a way that no one else has succeeded in doing.