Flexible funding for 'Longing Belonging and Balfour', a musical theatre telling of the 1917 Balfour Declaration story.
Chai For All will compose an hour-long musical theatre in April with a mishmosh of Jazz Klezmer, Arabic and Ottoman music, Salvation Army tunes, Story and Yiddish song. It will draw from the Russian scientist and Zionist Chaim Weizmann's account of how he won the heart of Arthur Balfour, misty-eyed imperialist, to extract a promise for a homeland for The Jews in British-held Palestine in 1917. Other stories will tell of Walter Williams, a Somerset soldier who admired the dashing General Allenby, conqueror of Jerusalem. What of the people already rooted there, the Palestinian Arabs? Not consulted, their fate would unfold more fully in the catastrophe of 1948. Their story will be told too.
We are gearing up to launch the show at the culmination of the Bristol's Refugee Festival July 9th 2017 as the story of the consequence of the Balfour Declaration is one of the great stories of 20th Century immigration and emigration, of longings fulfilled and belongings thwarted.
This crowdfunding will be matched we hope with public funding from The Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, and earn also through ticket sales. If we hit the full funding target we will employ in April a script writer, a top Palestinian artist, a well-known story teller, a top klezmer fiddle player, and film maker to make a film about the making of the project. We have 12 or so gigs lined up around the UK and an invitation to go to Bethlehem but none of this is possible without money. We want to pay the artists profssional rates. We also have the amazing highly experienced producer Mark Smulian, veteran of the Israeli-Palestinian joint music project WhiteFlag in support and able to make an album if funds allow.
Confirmed for the Bristol show are Knud Stuwe, oud, guitar and music arranger; David Mowat: trumpet and Project Director, Marianna Moralis; yiddish song and narration; Katie Stevens: clarinet, kaval, ney; Simon Leach: derabukka, saz.
The video is an extract of a small concert for Chai For Four at the Council For Christians and Jews gathering in Bristol in December 2016 and gives a flavour of what Chai For All is about. It is not an extract of the show to come, which is, as yet an unknown quantity!
Why are we doing this? Any answer will be shot down in flames by someone but here goes: The Israel Palestine conflict has raged for a 100 years. Political solutions alone have not worked but creative approaches may help tackle hardened hearts and polarized views at least here in the UK. The conflict worsens causing suffering all round, the fear and insecurity of Israelis as well as the oppresion of Palestinians.
Telling a 3-way story, Zionist, Palestinian and British, with great music, and inviting our audiences -we are keen to invite Jewish (we can't avoid Shabbat for every concert but will in places of larger Jewish audiences), Christian, pro-Palestinian audiences and will work closely with hosts to ensure a welcome for all- to consider all the narratives we hope will not only be entertaining but help to build empathy for the 'other side' and understanding of what any of it has to do with Brits. It's very important to us that ALL audiences feel safe to come. Where there are post-performance discussions they will be facilitated in small and larger groups with clear group norms to allow for sharing of personal stories and feelings, not for the passing of judgements over others.
It's worth a shot don't you think?
This project has been approved for funding through the Artists + The Crowd match funding. It has received a bridge of 25% towards its fundraising target from Arts Council England.