‘When Kids Dream’: A ‘Remarkable’ Gaza Operetta Tells of Tragedy and Hope (PHOTO ESSAY)

Art opertta ‘When Kids Dream’ was held in the Rashad Al-Shawa Cultural Center in Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh

An art operetta entitled ‘When Kids Dream’ was held in the Rashad Al-Shawa Cultural Center on Saturday, with the aim of displaying the ongoing hardship and oppression young people in Gaza are experiencing, due to the crippling 15-year Israeli siege and various wars.

The operetta starred Palestinian children and young artists from throughout the Gaza Strip and was organized by the 16th October Media Group, in partnership with Al-Thuraya Media Institute and the Palestinian Art Institute. It was sponsored by the Malaysia-Palestine Cultural Center. 

“When Kids Dream” crowned a youth-driven art-focused training program that provided skills and knowledge to Palestinian children across Gaza, making them capable of representing and defending their homeland through art.

The play featured various artistic performances, mainly acted by teen-aged children, delivering a vital Gaza-born message: that cultural resistance – through plays, poetry, and songs – is a powerful tool, which plays a significant role in fighting the Israeli occupier. 

“One of the authentic goals of such events,” the spokesperson and an organizer of the event, Sahar Kalloub, said, “is to solidify the presence of Palestinian children, whose struggles are often ignored by mainstream media.” 

“Understanding the core of the Palestinian struggle through the lens of Gaza children is essential and explanatory to the crimes committed against them by Israel,” Kalloub added.

Nabil Al Khatib, who spoke on behalf of the Palestinian Artists Institution, explained: “This is a remarkable production where Gaza children may see their dreams come true and witness the freedom of their homeland.”

“Our sketches and plays need no translation,” and are self-explanatory, Al Khatib added, “yet resonate with our seven-decade long struggle, and reject all forms of colonization and normalization that only aim to smear the indigenous culture so that another foreign population can take over.”

In the first act, a young actress played the part of Hadeel, a nine-year-old girl who was “severely wounded” by an Israeli missile that hit her neighbor’s home. Hadeel’s father spared no effort to get a permit from Israeli authorities so that she can get the medication needed outside Gaza and treat her wounds. However, Israel refused to grant them permission and the little girl succumbed to her wounds.

“I am Rasha, a Palestinian child born thirteen years ago. As I am growing up, I am experiencing anxiety and fear, instead of pleasure and safety,” one of the young actresses said.

In the second act, a child in a wheelchair appeared on stage, while clutching her teddy bear. She expressed the wish to die, just because she would like to join her family members and her beloved sister Hadeel, who were brutally killed by Israel.]

But another child tried to support her, saying: “No, we will all survive and one day, we will finally witness the freedom of our land”. Unfortunately, though, even this child will die, due to the lack of life-saving medical equipment, which Israel prevented from entering Gaza.

As the operetta neared its end, the song ‘Palestine Will Be Free’, performed by Palestinian artist Mohammed Shaaban, expressed the dire need to put an end to the Israeli occupation, asserting that only the Palestinian people should have the right to control their destiny. 

(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle) 

- Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh is a Gaza-based Palestinian journalist. He is a contributor to the book 'A Land with People' (Palestinians and Jews Confront Zionism – Monthly Review Press Publication, 2021). He is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MohammRafik
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