News / Arts & Entertainment

US Christians Work with Palestinians on Martin Luther King Play

'Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine' Highlighted at International Festivali
X
Julie Taboh
April 30, 2014 1:11 PM
An African American playwright and Christian choir travel to the West Bank with a Jewish filmmaker to work with a group of Palestinian actors on a play about Martin Luther King Jr. That unusual collaboration is the subject of a new documentary presented at the annual Washington, DC, International Film Festival. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

'Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine' Highlighted at International Festival

In the film, Al Helm [The Dream]: Martin Luther King in Palestine, an African-American gospel choir travels to the West Bank to work with members of the Palestinian National Theater on a play about Martin Luther King, Jr.

The unusual collaboration, the idea of American playwright Clayborne Carson, was the subject of a new documentary presented at the annual Washington, DC, International Film Festival.

“From the very beginning I’ve been very curious about the idea of bringing King to new cultures. He’s no longer an American cultural possession. He’s a global icon, and I want to tell King’s story in a way that’s going to resonate with Palestinians,” Carson said.

Filmmaker Connie Field, who is Jewish, traveled with the group to document the play, but ended up capturing much more.
Choir members sing during a performance of 'Passages of Martin Luther King' (Photo courtesy of Clarity Films Directed by Connie Field USA)Choir members sing during a performance of 'Passages of Martin Luther King' (Photo courtesy of Clarity Films Directed by Connie Field USA)
x
Choir members sing during a performance of 'Passages of Martin Luther King' (Photo courtesy of Clarity Films Directed by Connie Field USA)
Choir members sing during a performance of 'Passages of Martin Luther King' (Photo courtesy of Clarity Films Directed by Connie Field USA)


“I just became so fascinated with what was going to happen, largely with the African-American choir and what were they going to experience seeing the Palestinian Territories for the first time, especially given what they’ve been brought up to believe," Field said. "And they talk in fact about thinking all Palestinians were terrorists and so I just said ‘I’ve got to see what happens here.’ And that became the story really.”

By performing together as they toured the West Bank, the Christians and Muslims had an opportunity to learn about each other.

“They had the experience of seeing them completely different than who they thought they were," Field said. "It was really quite amazing.”

The choir also visited the Jenin refugee camp.

"I was so happy to sit in the audience watching a play about MLK," said Mustapha Staiti, a Palestinian actor. "In a refugee camp, you don’t have much opportunities of learning what’s happening outside of the camp.”

While in Jenin, the group met Juliano Mer-Khamis, a popular Israeli-Palestinian actor, who founded a community theater there.

They witnessed the sometimes violent life under occupation when Mer-Khamis was murdered by a masked gunman, ironically on the anniversary of King's assassination.

During the trip, the choir met Palestinian Fadi Quran, one of playwright Carson’s former students at Stanford University.

"He's a politically serious young man who wholeheartedly believes in non-violence and has been working that way in Palestine,” said Field.

"The play about MLK and the civil rights struggle generally happening in Palestine means a lot to me," Quran said. "When people see the success that MLK achieved, it gives people hope."

In the end, Field believes the trip was a transformative experience for everyone involved.

“They [the choir] wouldn’t take this and become spokespeople all over but I think it’s really, definitely changed them inside; very much,” she said.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jamie from: Earth
April 30, 2014 4:25 PM
This is hilarious! The palestinian-Arabs must not be aware that MLK was a Zionist and supported the rights of Jews in Israel? In addition to that, he was against the intolerance inherent in Islam and the PA culture.

In Response

by: The JillyBeans from: Los Angeles
April 30, 2014 8:38 PM
The very much alive Archbishop Tutu as well as many other religious leaders of the 21st century now agree that Israel has become an apartheid segregationist state.

Fifty years ago, we didn't realize that Zionism=Racism. Now we do.

MLK stood for peaceful resistance and boycott, like BDS.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

At Washington’s Blues Alley jazz singer Jane Monheit and her quartet perform songs made famous by Judy Garland. Monheit sits down with "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten to talk about her music, the singers who influence her, and her life traveling with family on tour.