Since 2007 the Culture and Arts Programme (CAP) has collaborated with the Royal Flemish Theatre and Les Ballets C de la B Company on a Performing Arts Summer School in Palestine. This is a long-term project aimed at strengthening the skills and abilities of young Palestinian artists working in the performing arts. The collaboration represents a cultural exchange between Ramallah (Palestine) and Brussels (Belgium).
The first PASS was held in Birzeit in partnership with the Royal Flemish Theatre between 31 July - 23 August 2007. 16 young participants were chosen from across the West Bank and pre-1948 occupied Palestine, who share an interest in the performing arts, whether theatre, dance, circus, singing, etc. In the first two weeks the focus was on an exploration of modern dance and drama, and giving participantsthe skills to help create new performance pieces.
In week three the focus was on idea building and dramaturgy, while participants also developed their individual projects. The course was supervised by dramaturge Hildegard de Vuyst, playwright and director Bart Danckaert, dancer RosalbaTorres Guerrero, choreographer KoenAugustijnen, actor Joris Van den Brande, and Palestinian director Francois Abu Salem.
After the success of the first PASS, CAP and the Royal Flemish Theatre organised a second one in Birzeit between 26 April – 8 May 2008. Fourteen candidates were accepted, four of whom also joined in the third PASS held in Belgium between 15 October - 15 November 2008, as part of MASARAT Palestine - A cultural season of art in BrusselsThese were Adham Noman, ZainaZarour, Ahmad Tobassi and Maher Shwamreh.
The fourth PASS was held in Birzeit between 1 – 28 August 2009, and was organised in partnership with The Royal Flemish Theatre and Les Ballet C de La B Company. Nine young participants from across Palestine were supervised by dramaturge Hildegard de Vuyst, dancer Rosalba Torres Guerrero, and choreographer Koen Augustijnen. The focus this year was on developing and staging a performance, entitled, In the Park, which was presented in the gardens of Birzeit University’s women’s dormitories on 26 and 27 August.
Four PASS participants from the year—Khaled Al-Barghouthi, Farah Saleh, Salma Ataya, and Ahmad Toubassi—were selected to join an intensive training workshop in Belgium for one month.
After PASS, Ahmad Toubassi went on to study at a theatre in Norway, before accepting an offer from a professional dance academy. Farah Saleh joined a new production by choreographer Alain Platel and his company, and Salma Ataya and Khaled Al-Barghouthi participated in further training programmes and dance workshops.
The sixth PASS was held in Birzeit between 10-29 April 2010 and was organised in partnership with The Royal Flemish Theatre. The course focused on playwriting, with a number of young writers joining, including: Dalia Taha, Kifah Al-Fanni,Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, RimahJabr, Ibrahim Marazqa, Anas Ahmad, and Tayseer Al-Khatib.
Former PASS students also joined for a reading of the new group’s works-in-progress. Visiting former students included: Alaa Abu Saa, Maher Shwamreh, Khaled Al-Barghouthi, Yareq Zaboun, Salma Ataya, Yazin Oweidat, Farah Saleh, Riham Ishaq, Remy Sahouri, Adham Noman, Islam Sayrafi, and Saleh Bakri. The course was supervised by Algerian writer Mohammed Al-Qassimi,dramaturge Hildegard de Vuyst,and playwright and director Bart Danckaert. At the end of the course six plays written by the group were read in front of an audience.
The seventh PASS was organised in partnership with the Royal Flemish Theatre and held between 29 July-26 August 2011 at the Talita School in Beit Jala. Eleven previous PASS participants joined in, along with five professional artists from Belgium. The course was supervised by dramaturge Hildegard de Vuyst, playwright and director Bart Danckaert, and PASS manager Nisreen Nafaa. The focus was on developing the first stage of a play entitled, Keffiyeh/ Made in China, based on joint script written by young participants Dalia Taha from Palestine, and Joris Van den Brande from Belgium.
The second stage of the production was completed in Brussels in February and March 2012, with the participation of five Palestinian PASS students, Rimah Jabr(Nablus), Yazin Oweidat (Ramallah), Zeenah Zarour (Jenin), Farah Saleh (Ramallah) and Alaa Abu Saa (Tulkarm), along with professional Belgian artists Joris Van den Brande, Cat Arnett, Thomas Divos, Saeed Jaffery and Mohamed Aloshi.
Keffiyeh/ Made in China opened at the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels on 24 March 2012, and ran for six performances, receiving wide media coverage across Europe. On 18 April the production was brought to Palestine and shown at the Yes Theatre in Hebron. A month-long tour followed, with stops in Dar Annadwa (Bethlehem) at the Al-Harah Theater, in Golan Heights at the Oyoon Theatre – Majdal Shams, in Haifa at the Maidan Theatre, in Ramallah at the Al–Kasaba Theatre and Cinematheque, in Tulkarm at the Khadouri College Theatre, and with a closing performance in Jerusalem at the Palestinian National Theatre (El-Hakawati).