9:58am Friday 21st May 2010
By Duncan Hall
Rather than take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Brighton Theatre has decided to give an alternative, balanced and unbiased view of the atrocities happening in the Middle East through the point of view of a building.
In January 2009 Israeli forces shelled a UN refugee aid warehouse in Gaza as part of a 22-day offensive in response to a series of Palestinian rocket attacks.
It was this action which has inspired the husband and wife team of writer Richard Crane and director Faynia Williams to address the conflict in their new work, which follows on from last year’s critically acclaimed Fringe show The Last Domino, which investigated the Soho pub bombings.
I Am A Warehouse is being staged to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Relief And Works Agency.
“Faynia and I went to Gaza in February to see what had happened,” says Richard.
“We did formal and informal interviews with the chief spokesman for UN operations there, Chris Gunness. He revealed it was a key moment when their own warehouse got bombed – they are supposed to be neutral.
“The Israelis had apparently got wind that weapons were stored in the warehouse.”
The production is keen to draw audiences from both sides of the conflict, both Jewish organisations and the Palestinian Solidarity movement.
And each performance will be followed by a question and answer session allowing people to share their views on what they have seen.
“The piece is not overtly political on one side or the other,” says Richard. “We wanted to talk about the people who work in the middle who have been there for 60 years supporting the million-strong refugee population in Gaza.
“The story is from the point of the warehouse on that night of January 15 last year. It’s a bit like an oratorio, spoken and sung with film and art installations.”
Among the artists involved are Romany Mark Bruce, who sculpted Brighton’s AIDS memorial in New Steine Gardens, who will be creating an installation in the fort’s tunnels.
Richard hopes that some sort of settlement can eventually be reached by both sides.
“Gaza is a very small area, only about the length from Brighton to Eastbourne and only about four miles deep,” he says.
“It is a very tragic set-up – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope. About a million and a half people are living there, half of whom are under 18, and a large proportion of them are under ten years old.
“It is a timebomb waiting to explode. Decent people are leaving, so within a few years the only people left will be the extremists.
“They will have lost the dream. There was a possibility of achieving it, but then the walls were built, which are an absolute nightmare.
“They feel like they will be there forever as they snake across the landscape.”
* Starts 6.45pm, tickets £15, including a ticket for Big Lemon Bus which leaves opposite the Royal Albion Hotel, Old Steine, Brighton, at 6pm.
Call 01273 709709. Optional cous cous meal with salad and complimentary drink £5, must be pre-booked on 01273 517622.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group