The launch of the book: Timeless Tales: folk tales told by Syrian refugees
The book will be presented by the editor, Zulaikha Abu Risha, and Syrian storyteller Nemer Salamun who will perform some of the stories.
The Hakawati project was launched on the 1st of January 2014 by the Cultural Heritage without Borders association (CHwB), with support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery. The project is based on collaboration between CHwB and Hakaya network represented by the Arab Education Forum (Jordan), The Arab Resource Collective for Popular Arts – Al Jana (Lebanon), and Al Balad theatre (Jordan), and in association with Fabula for storytelling (Sweden). Copies of the book will be distributed to the audience.
Timeless Tales from the Hakawati project
The book “Timeless Tales: folk tales told by Syrian refugees” will be launched on April 12th, at Al Balad Theater in Amman – Jordan at 7:00PM. In addition to the presentation of the book, Syrian storyteller Nemer Salamun will tell excerpts from the stories in the book.
The Hakawati project was launched on the 1st of January 2014 by the Cultural Heritage without Borders association (CHwB), with support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery. The project is based on collaboration between CHwB and Hakaya network represented by the Arab Education Forum (Jordan), The Arab Resource Collective for Popular Arts – Al Jana (Lebanon), and Al Balad theatre (Jordan), and in association with Fabula for storytelling (Sweden). The book launch in Jordan will be followed by a series of storytelling events by storytellers Nemer Salamun, Sahalabiyyeh al Hakawatiyyeh, the Abu Saleem Brothers and Shereen Zoumot at the Collateral Repair Project center in Hashimi Al Shamali and in Syrian refugee camps in cooperation with UNICEF.
The aim of this project is to contribute to the preservation of one of Syria’s intangible cultural heritages, the tradition of oral storytelling as a common denominator for solidarity across ethnic, geographic, and religious boundaries. The basic idea of the project is to capture traditional stories and publish them in a bilingual (Arabic -English) anthology that will be distributed as widely as possible in Sweden and in the MENA region, and to produce and organize tours for performances based on these stories.
During the period between Februarys – mid June 2014 Al Jana association in Lebanon supervised the collection of more than 200 folk tales by 6 researchers from most of the Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon, as well as the city of Soueidaa inside Syria. Most of the stories -where consent is secured from the narrator- were filmed, audio-recorded, and transcribed. The lead researcher, Paul Matar, then chose 55 stories that were used in the residency organized by Al Balad theatre in cooperation with Fabula storytelling in Jordan prior to the Hakaya festival for 12 storytellers from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Sweden and supervised by Paul Matar (Lebanon) and Amanda Glans (Sweden). The storytellers worked on new productions based on the stories and they later performed them during the festival.
In October 2014, the Arab Education Forum commissioned renowned writer and editor, Zulaikha Abu Risha, to edit the book containing a selection of these stories. Together with the project team she selected 21 stories that were re-written in classical and colloquial Arabic, and then translated into English by Serene Huleileh and edited by Irish storyteller, Jack Lynch. The book entitled “Timeless Tales” was published in Sweden in February 2015, and will be published in Jordan and Lebanon in March of the same year.
This anthology is not only meant to archive these stories, but give them a second life to be read and told by the new generations of Syrians wherever they are, as well as introduce the world to these exciting folk tales. They have been produced in Classical and colloquial Arabic, and they were also recorded by two renowned Syrian storytellers/actors: Nimer Salamun and May Skaff. The anthology will be distributed as widely as possible in Sweden and in the MENA region, and will be accompanied by storytelling performances organized by Fabula storytelling in Sweden, Al Balad theatre in Jordan, and Al Jana in Lebanon. The performances will ensure that these stories continue to live on in the hearts, minds and traditions of Syrians, host populations in the region and elsewhere in the world.
Stories are what we are made of, and if we lose our stories we risk losing touch with our humanity and our identity. We strongly believe that through the enhancement of this thousand-year-old heritage of storytelling the Hakawati project has a potential to bridge ethnic, political and religious divides and hopefully build better understanding between people all over the world.
About the Partners:
The foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) is a Swedish NGO, operating in areas to protect cultural property both material and immaterial nature threatened by war, natural disasters, abuse, poverty or political and social conflicts. The Foundation conducts heritage initiatives with special emphasis on dialogue and interaction as a means to promote democratic values and practices. . www.chwb.org
Hakaya is a Pan-Mediterranean program/platform connecting organizations, groups, and individuals who believe in the centrality of stories in individual development and cultural growth. www.hakaya.org
The Arab Education Forum is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization active in the Arab world since 1998 in the field of community and youth work. The mission of AEF is to contribute to an Arab cultural regeneration project that springs out of the inherent knowledge and experiences within the Arab societies. AEF constantly attempts to develop a shared vision related to learning in the Arab world; a vision that springs out of authentic initiatives which start with and build on what people do and what culture has. www.almoultaqa.com
AL-JANA/ARCPA is a non-profit organization established in 1990 that works with marginalized communities in Lebanon. The organization has set its mission to “work with communities that face marginalization in Lebanon in building on their strengths, and documenting and disseminating their empowering experiences and cultural contributions. The organization specializes in producing educational and cultural resources. Its programs vary to include interventions focusing on active memory, active learning and creative expression, youth media, and conflict transformation. www.al-jana.org
Al Balad theatre is a multi-purpose artistic and community space established by renovating an old cinema house in down town Amman built in the 1940’s. The space aims to promote young artists from Jordan and the region by presenting their works, providing rehearsal space, and contributing to strengthening the cultural movement in Jordan through interaction and cooperation with all performing art groups, NGOs, and individuals, public and private, in Jordan, the region, and the world. www.al-balad.org .
Fabula storytelling is a storytelling company that operates throughout the whole of Sweden, the Nordic countries and many others. They create educational courses for everything from stage artists to businesses, schools and organizations, and produce shows for adults, youth and children. www.storytelling.se