• Jerusalem

  • Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 6:11:25 PM
    Last Update : Thursday, April 4, 2024 at 6:19 AM

Jerusalem Storyteller Mixes His Tales with Gaza Stories in a Sorrowful Palestinian Ramadan

(AWP) - A Palestinian artist is bringing back ancient stories and the heritage of Jerusalem to recite to his audience in the café of a market that goes back more than seven centuries.

This year and during Ramadan, he has decided to incorporate into his Jerusalem tales stories from Gaza, which has lost over 32,000 people in less than six months since the beginning of the Israeli war on the strip.

Hussam Abu Aisha, a 65-year-old Palestinian actor and director from Jerusalem, takes his stage by standing on a seat in a café at the city’s Cotton Merchants’ Gate market, where he tells stories in what has become a Ramadan tradition, attracting crowds of people from all across the city.

The artist, who won Best Arab Actor at the 2022 Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia says that he grew up listening to Arab heritage stories, like “Antar and Abla” and “Al-Zeer Salem,” but today he is telling his afflicted audience stories of a different kind.

Abu Aisha, who studied business administration in Beirut, told AWP, “This year’s Ramadan is sad. It is a painful Ramadan because of the events in Gaza, so we must continue and incorporate stories about Gaza. That is to say, we combine the tales of Jerusalem and Gaza, and we devote ourselves to praying to God to relieve our worries, as well as those of our people in Gaza and all of our Palestinian people.”

He is well aware of the changing world around him and how technology has superseded certain roles like that of the storyteller.

Abu Aisha explained, “The storyteller existed before technology. Men would go to these cafés after the Tarawih prayers [in Ramadan] to listen to the storyteller… We are working to revive this heritage, which is being received as an experiment in a very beautiful and wonderful way because there is a visual connection with people. There are tales and stories, whether ancient or modern, that address what the Palestinian people are suffering from, especially in the city of Jerusalem.”

The art of storytelling was known in the levant as a traditional folk custom. It is a description of a person who specialises in telling stories in homes, shops, coffee shops, and in the streets, with people gathered around him.

Today, Abu Aisha says that he and his fellow storytellers are supporters of “art for change.”
He explained, “What is change? Changing people's lives for the better. The playwright by nature anticipates events before the average citizen. He puts a microscope on them and presents them to the audience.”