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A year in the life of Beit Zatoun

Opening night at Beit Zatoun in Toronto on Jan. 2010.

Beit Zatoun, the Toronto art space and cultural centre dedicated to Palestine, is a year old.

It opened its doors on January 30, 2010 for its first event, "Seven Days from a Gaza Diary," a performance for three female voices based on the diary kept by a young Palestinian woman during the invasion of Gaza, 12 months earlier in 2009. That night it was to be followed by piano improvisation by Toronto pianist, John Kameel Farah. And we -- the organizers -- held our breath, looking out our window mesmerized by the lights adorning our famous neighbour, Honest Ed's bargain store, wondering -- would anyone come to our evening? Could Beit Zatoun work?


Theatre for Living: Us and Them -- The Inquiry

David Diamond and two actor/audience members at work. Photo: Milan Radovanovic
The artistic director of Vancouver's Headlines Theatre Company discusses their groundbreaking new community theatre project.

Related story:

Theatre in a quiet place can make a big noise

Poland’s Teatr Węgajty, whose founders cite Emerson and Whitman as influences, blends tradition and experimentation to address social issues in a rural, grassroots setting.

The small village of Węgajty, hidden amongst the forests of Poland's Lake District, unknown to anyone who does not deliberately seek it out, is home to one of that culturally rich country's most socially engaged experimental theatre companies.

Experimental theatre? In the middle of cow country? For Wacław and Erdmute Sobaszek, co-founders of the Teatr Węgajty Fieldwork Project, there is no better setting.

"This is a collective effort," explains Wacław. "What makes us different from other theatre companies is that instead of putting on a show for people, we work with people. The whole community gets involved."


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