Name the comedian who might say 'I wonder if I can set up a comedy club… in a refugee camp... in Palestine?' Of course, it’s Mark Thomas. And that is exactly what he tries to do.
Dodging cultural and literal bullets, Israeli incursions and religion, Mark and his team set out to run a comedy club and put on two nights in the Palestinian city of Jenin. Only to find that it is not so simple to celebrate freedom of speech in a place with so little freedom.
Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold for the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade during the Second Intifada, is not a place synonymous with laughs. But it is also home to the Jenin Freedom Theatre and to people with a wealth of stories to tell.
Mark tells this story alongside Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Alaa Shehada, two performers, actors and now aspiring comics from the Jenin Club. This is a story about being yourself in a place that wants to put you in a box. Funny, moving and necessary. Mark says, it’s the nearest he will ever get to Alan Parker’s ‘Fame’.
Presented by Lakin McCarthy in association with Theatre Royal Stratford East .
★★★★★ 'A genuinely vital piece of theatre... feels like a direct descendant to the popular and political theatre of Joan Littlewood.' All Edinburgh Theatre
★★★★★ 'A side-splittingly funny show' Underdog Reviews
★★★★★ 'This is a show that undoubtedly informs, educates and entertains – and proof positive how, in some situations, comedy is the strongest defence any of us have' Broadway Baby
★★★★ 'This defiant comedy that gives a voice to the voiceless.' The Guardian
★★★★ 'This engaging, thought-provoking and extremely funny show breaks down common stereotypes and preconceptions one joke at a time.' The Telegraph
★★★★ 'A winning marriage of stand-up and storytelling.' The Times
★★★★ 'Defiant and winningly mischievous, Showtime from the Frontline laughs hard at authoritarianism.' The Scotsman
★★★★ 'irreverant and inventive' The Stage
★★★★ 'A bold show about giving a platform to those who might never be able to express themselves' The List
★★★★ 'Gives a voice to the voiceless and tells the untold stories from the other side of the wall. Thomas and co have walked the walk and now it’s all about the talk. Laughing as we go.' Edinburgh Guide
'Yet again, the self-defined "libertarian anarchist" comedian delivers politics without the polemic.' The Herald
★★★★ 'Funny, touching.' Metro
★★★★ 'The trio deliver a tale of triumph and underline the undeniable potency of comedy in the darkest of situations.' Evening Standard
★★★★ 'Thoroughly entertaining mix of stand-up and fond recollection.' Time Out
Time: 7.30pm (with matinees at 2.30pm on Sat 14, Thu 19 and Sat 21 Apr)
Price: From £10
Runtime: Approximately 2 hours including interval
Age Guidance: 14+
Post-show talks: Thu 12 Apr (hosted by Nadia Fall), Mon 16 Apr (host TBC) and Wed 18 Apr (hosted by Sam Beale) - talks are free to those with a ticket for those performances
Concessions: Available at many performances for children and under 26s. If you can’t attend a show without the support of a companion or carer, you can get a companion ticket free of charge – click here for details.
Newham Discount Night: There are a limited number of £5 tickets for the performance on Tue 10 Apr. These are available for first-time visitors who live or work in Newham (proof of address required) and there's a maximum of two per person. Only available to book in person or over the phone.
Captioned: Wed 18 Apr - 7.30pm
BSL interpreted: Thu 19 Apr - 7.30pm
Audio Described: Sat 21 Apr - 2.30pm
Our ticket prices increase as the theatre fills. We always recommend booking early to secure the best seats at the best price.
Mark Thomas is one of the UK’s most effective and best-known political performers. He has won awards for his stage works Bravo Figaro, Cuckooed and The Red Shed including a Special Edinburgh Fringe Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Festival and an Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award. He is a one-time Guinness World Record holder for the most demonstrations in one day. For television his credits include The Mark Thomas Comedy Product and Dispatches. For radio his credits include The Manifesto. He has also recently released a new book Liar’s Quartet.
Faisal Abu Alhayjaa is an actor and director from Jenin Refugee Camp in Palestine. He was part of the first generation to train and graduate from The Freedom Theatre Acting School. He has toured both Palestine and internationally and is project manager of The Freedom Bus, a project that brings cultural resistance to communities across Palestine. Since 2012 he has been a Clown for Red Noses International and in 2016 he spent two months performing in Greek refugee camps. In 2016 Faisal co-founded the Palestinian Laughter Liberation.
Alaa Shehada is a theatre maker who studied at The Freedom Theatre Acting School in Jenin Refugee Camp Palestine. He is now part of Theatre Hotel Courage, an international theatre company that creates tragic comic shows with archetypical masks. He is a Clown for Red Noses International and a founding member of the Palestinian Laughter Liberation. He continues to teach at the Jenin Freedom Theatre.
Joe Douglas directs. He is a multiple Fringe First Award and Critic Award winner and is currently Co-Artistic Director of touring company Utter. Having previously been a Trainee Director at the National Theatre of Scotland (2007-8). As Associate Artistic Director of Dundee Rep his credits The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Death of a Salesman, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Spoiling and The BFG (Dundee Rep). Other credits include The Red Shed (UK tour), Stand By (The Byre Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival), My Friend Selma (Tron Theatre), Letters Home (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Bloody Trams (Traverse Theatre), Dear Scotland, The Last Polar Bears, Our Teacher’s A Troll, Allotment (National Theatre of Scotland), Our House (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and Black Watch (international tour).
Behind the Scenes: