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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”