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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”