The 7arakat Conference in Australia on 2 & 3 November 21Oct12 October 21, 2012

Media Release: The 7arakat Conference

Event Title: The 7arakat Conference: Theatre, Cultural Diversity and Inclusion 2012

Dates: Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of November 2012

Venue: La Trobe University City Campus, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne

 In an Australian first, the 7arakat Conference has invited four Palestinian theatre-makers to present on their creative practice, to reflect on the theatre’s role in providing networks of participation and social inclusion, and to discuss how participation in the performing arts can facilitate cultural citizenship and belonging.

The Palestinian keynote speakers include Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour, General Director of Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Society (ACTS). Alrowwad, which means ‘the pioneers’ in Arabic, was established in the Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine in 1998 and focuses on work with the children and women of the camp. Underpinning this work is the strategy of ‘beautiful resistance’ in which theatre and artistic practice is used as a non-violent and creative means to resist the occupation, build human capacity and redress negative stereotypes of Palestinians. The strategy of ‘beautiful resistance’ underscores how much of the theatre produced in Palestine is conceived as both a resistant practices and as peace-building tools.

The 7arakat Conference will also hear from Iman Aoun, the Artistic Director of Ashtar Theatre, Palestine. An internationally recognised theatre trainer who specialises in the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, Iman developed The Gaza Mono-Logues, a documentary theatre performance based on the personal stories of a group of children from Gaza that was distributed to partner agencies and theatre companies around the globe and performed simultaneously on 17 October 2010 by over 1500 youth in more than 50 cities in 36 countries. Most recently Iman produced and performed in Ashtar Theatre’s production of Richard II that toured to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre as part of the Globe-to-Globe Festival 2012. As part of the conference, Iman will reflect on the efficacy of the performing arts in bringing about social change.

The conference will also hear from Dr. Nicholas Rowe, former dancer with the Australian Ballet School, who is currently a Senior Lecturer in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland. From 2000-2008, Nicholas resided in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He has conducted dance workshops in refugee contexts both in Palestine and in refugee camps in Lebanon. He uses dance to get participants to change their relationships with their bodies and with the spaces around them. The conference will also hear from Prof. Michael Balfour, Chair in Applied and Social Theatre at Griffith University. Balfour’s research expertise is in the social applications of theatre which includes theatre in communities, social institutions, and areas of disadvantage and conflict. He has co-authored the book Performance: In Place of War (Seagull Press, 2009), and is the author of Theatre in Prison (Intellect, 2004).

By inviting Palestinian scholars and theatre makers, the conference not only seeks to raise awareness and build research capacity surrounding Palestinian theatre but to also engage with the priority target groups of refugee, middle-eastern and Muslim communities here in Australia. Given the popular support and concern expressed for the plight of Palestinians among Arab nations and peoples, the conference examines creative engagement with Palestine as a means of reaching out not only to Palestinians but also to wider Arab communities living in Australia and abroad. Ultimately, the conference seeks to address the perceived social isolation and exclusion of Arab and Muslim Australians by highlighting theatre practice that promotes social cohesion, belonging and cultural citizenship through engagement with and activity in the performing arts.

The conference will explore practice, research and advocacy in the performing arts with a particular focus on Palestinian Theatre, Arab/Australian Theatre, and Applied Theatre with refugee/migrant groups. The aims of the 7arakat Conference is to bring together educators, scholars, community development workers, advocates and theatre makers to examine new approaches in applied theatre practice; to formulate new policies and recommendations required to tackle persistent exclusionary practices facing culturally diverse theatre makers; and to redress issues of participation and access to theatre by migrant and refugee communities.

The conference is supported by Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), the Centre for Creative Arts at La Trobe University, the Diversity in Australian Theatre Alliance (DATA), Australians for Palestine (AFP), and the Australian Government through the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR). Through support of the 7arakat Project, the conference is also assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

For more information please visit:

Or contact the Conference Convenor

Dr. Rand T. Hazou

Conference Convenor

Theatre and Drama Program| La Trobe University| Bundoora Campus| 3086 VIC
T: 9479 2340| M: +61 0407 042 552| F: 61 3 9479 3037|E:

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