Bethlehem Cultural Festival 2022 announces dates and events in London, Glasgow and Bethlehem

The Bethlehem Cultural Festival highlights the arts, culture and heritage of Palestine, showcasing the historical culture and artistic production of the region. The 2022 Festival, in its third edition this year, holds events in London, Glasgow and Bethlehem. Highlights include a visit to the traditional dabka dance theatre, a concert of Palestinian songs by Yacoub Shaheen, a household name in the Arab world, and a talk by artist Malak Mattar, Women under siege – survival through art, broadcast in direct from Gaza.

This year’s festival opens with the UK premiere of Alrowwad’s The Camp’s Gate, a powerful multidisciplinary performance for six dancers at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green on 29 November. The show uses music, drama and traditional Palestinian dabka to tell the story of elderly refugee Abu Ahmad, his past and present, his displacement, his life in a refugee camp and his hopes for freedom. The work was created earlier this year to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Alrowwad Center for Arts and Culture which started in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem in 1998.

At the Tabernacle in Notting Hill, December 1, an evening of lectures, readings, talks and discussions. In 19th Century Travelers of Bethlehem, Khalil Shokeh and Maxim Sansour talk to Jacob Norris about their upcoming book, the first English translation of Bethlehem in Palastina. The book explores Bethlehem 170 years ago through the eyes of Titus Tobler, a young Swiss doctor who traveled to Palestine to undertake medical research. There will also be readings from Water the Willow Tree: Memoirs of a Bethlehem Boyhood by George A Kiraz and a preview of Jacob Norris’ forthcoming book, The Lives and Deaths of Jubrail Dabdoub. Then, broadcast live from Gaza, artist Malak Mattar will discuss his influences and the impact of war on his practice in his talk Women under siege – survival through art.

Also at the Tabernacle, on December 2, a concert of songs from Palestine by Yacoub Shaheen, singer, multi-instrumentalist and winner of Arab Idol 2017. Yacoub, son of a carpenter, became a household name in the Arab world after winning the contest , leading fans to call him young Frank Sinatra from Palestine. Yacoub comes from the small Syriac Christian community that is part of the Assyrian nation that stretches from Palestine to Iraq.

In Glasgow there is a weekend of live events from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th December. On December 2, an evening of spoken word will feature Palestinian poet and playwright Dalia Taha, Palestinian author Bader Othman and Glasgow poet Victoria McNulty at the Ramshorn, a former church that now houses the Scottish National Center for languages ​​(SCILT).

On December 3, a simultaneous Christmas tree lighting takes place in Glasgow Cathedral and Manger Square, Bethlehem. In the cathedral, the young dabka group Alrowwad launches a special service including Christmas carols and readings. Also on December 3, at Glasgow’s Civic House, there is a late-night music event featuring up-and-coming artists from Palestine and the UK.

On December 4, the Glasgow Film Theater is hosting screenings of Palestinian short films, co-hosted by Irish/Palestinian actress Sarah Agha and award-winning filmmaker Wisam Aljafari from Bethlehem.

Alrowwad’s The Camp’s Gate travels to Salisbury Cathedral on December 2 before heading to Sheffield and Derby with further dates to come.

The festival’s creative director, Melissa Scott, said: “How many people know that Bethlehem is a real place with a thriving cultural scene? Bethlehem will be on everyone’s lips as Christmas approaches, but how much attention do we give people This festival offers an exciting opportunity to experience Palestine and its neighbors through cultural voices celebrating the richness and depth of the region and connecting them to artists here in the UK.An eclectic range of performances for the audience in London and Glasgow includes concerts, electronic music, dancing, independent films, book launches as well as food and drink tastings.

Darcy J. Skinner