The Freedom Theater

mer_khamisJuliano Mer-Khamis. Photograph: Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images

The Jenin Freedom Theatre—Jenin Refugee Camp Palestine

On April 4, 2011, Israeli actor and peace activist Juliano Mer-Khamis who ran a drama project in a Palestinian refugee camp was shot dead by masked men, meters from the theatre he founded.

A chief mission of the theatre is to empower children and youth.Having grown up amidst a violent military occupation, the young generation in the Jenin area struggle with ongoing fears, depression and trauma. At the same time, few opportunities exist for these youngsters to find positive and creative outlets for their emotions which can allow them to develop a healthy and meaningful sense of themselves and their surroundings.

The Freedom Theatre therefore offers children, youth and young adults in the Jenin area a safe space in which they are free to express themselves, to explore their creativity and emotions through culture and arts. It provides them with opportunities to develop the skills, self-knowledge and confidence which can empower them to challenge present realities and to speak out in their own society and beyond.

Letter from Jen Marlowe
Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre

Dear Friends,

Many of you may have already heard about the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis. The co-founder and director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, he was gunned down (five bullets to the head) this afternoon outside the theatre by an unknown assailant.

I first met Juliano in 2006, when I began working with a group of activists in New York to support the Freedom Theatre. I have visited the Freedom Theatre multiple times over the years, watching Juliano teach and direct young acting students. Most recently, I watched Juliano as he coached acting students three months ago, preparing for the much-acclaimed production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

I have no words at this moment to describe Juliano, the work of the Freedom Theatre and the scope and scale of this horrific event, both for his family (Juliano leaves behind two children, one still a baby, and a pregnant wife), for the theatre, for the community in Jenin Refugee Camp and for Palestine as a whole.

I can only offer this video, which I made in collaboration with my colleagues in Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre.

Juliano was killed. But he has not been silenced.

With deep sadness,
Jen Marlowe