Prisoners of the Occupation

Einat Weizman’s contentious play about Palestinian prisoners in Israel reaches the UK

A controversial new play comes to London this Sunday as part of Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. Written and performed by Palestinian political prisoners, alongside Israeli playwright Einat Weizman, Prisoners of the Occupation has already been banned in Israel for "glorifying terrorists", according to Israel's minister of culture Miri Regev. For one night only, they'll get the chance to perform the contentious piece, which documents the harsh conditions for accused terrorists inside Israeli prisons.

It’s narrated by 60-year-old Ibrahim, himself an ex-prisoner who spent 30 years incarcerated. He takes the audience on a journey into the shrouded confines of prison life; through the reception process, investigations, tortures, hunger strikes, solitary confinement, day-to-day routine, transitions from prison to prison, and family visits.

Weizman based the production on verbatim testimonies from both current and former prisoners, who have actively contributed at every stage of the play’s creation – including writing a scene in a cell. In the video above, which was created for the crowd-funding page, she explains how these statements have helped her "expose black holes that cameras can't reach" and how "theatre is the only way to document this reality".

Ofer Prison

Ofer Prison

Prisoners of the Occupation shines a light on a secretive world that shows the same treatment to all political prisoners, whether they're in for participating in armed resistance or for writing poetry. This performance is not a glorification of terrorism, but a window to the truth.

By Danielle Goldstein

Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights features 19 plays across 19 days (Sun 16 Jun–Thu 4 Jul). Prisoners of the Occupation takes place Sunday 16 June. 7.30pm. £5. Finborough Theatre, SW10 9ED. 012 2335 7851.