Palestinian refugees to bring cafe culture to Edinburgh Fringe

A group of young Palestinian refugees have landed a plum slot to appear at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer.

Palestinian refugees will perform a show including music, song, dance and film this summer. Picture: Contributed
Palestinian refugees will perform a show including music, song, dance and film this summer. Picture: Contributed

The Cafe Palestine show, which is being staged at the Pleasance Courtyard in August will feature music, song, dance and film.

A 14-strong group of performers, mainly aged between 13 and 17, will be travelling to Edinburgh from Bethlehem to take part in the 70th annual festival.

They all take regular classes at an arts centre in the West Bank city, which promotes the cultivation of creativity as an alternative to violence.

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    The Amos Trust, a human rights organisation which works with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, is helping to bring the Alrowwad Youth Theatre outfit to Edinburgh.

    Their lunchtime show is expected to show how they have developed “resilience and means of self-expression to counter the harsh realities of Israeli occupation.”

    Special guest performers appearing in the show will also be drawn from the Artists for Palestine UK movement, whose members include comedian Mark Thomas and Alexei Sayle. Scottish artists to back the group include former Makar Liz Lochhead and actress Siobhan Redmond.

    The Cafe Palestine performances will be mixed with on-stage interviews offering an insight into life in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, where the Alrowwad Centre for Culture and Arts is based.

    The young performers, who will be staying with local families in Edinburgh, are also expected to perform at the Scottish Parliament during its annual Festival of Politics while they are in the city.

    Justin Butcher, the producer of the show, which runs from 22-26 August, said: “I’ve visited the Alrowwad Centre in Bethlehem several times. I’ve been inspired profoundly by their work and the vision of their founder and director, Dr Abdelfattah Abusrour.

    “His maxim and watchword is ‘beautiful resistance’ - resisting the stifling humiliation, oppression and despair of th occupation through celebration of culture, beauty, art, humour and hope.

    “The wall which Israel has built around Bethlehem has severely restricted travel since the early 2000s. Some of these kids will simply not have been outside Bethlehem before. The refugee camps in the city are the most impoverished places in the city.

    “These kids live with their families in tiny dwellings and Aida and attend classes probably every day in the likes of theatre, dance, music, creative writing, comedy and clowning. They wear very colourful and beautiful costumes - I expect their show in Edinburgh to be very exciting, vigorous and uplifting.”

    The Cafe Palestine show will be staged at the Fringe two years after the event was overshadowed by a row over a cultural boycott of Israeli artists.

    A hip-hop opera lost its venue after being targeted by protesters while a dance company pulled out over safety fears.