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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

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.”