Amir Nizar Zuabi: A theatrical journey celebrating the refugee experience | TED | Summary and Q&A

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Amir Nizar Zuabi: A theatrical journey celebrating the refugee experience | TED


Amir Nizar Zuabi, a theater practitioner from Palestine, shares his journey of creating "The Walk," a rolling arts festival about the refugee experience.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Where was Amir Nizar Zuabi born and raised?

Amir Nizar Zuabi was born and raised in East Jerusalem, specifically in a tough part of town between the Beit Hanina neighborhood and the Shu'fat refugee camp.

Q: What inspired Amir Nizar Zuabi to become a theater practitioner?

When Amir was 14 years old, he stumbled upon a theater show in his neighborhood and fell in love with the reality being created on stage. He was drawn to the possibilities, freedom, and contrast it offered compared to the harsh reality of their everyday lives.

Q: What challenges do theater practitioners face in Palestine?

In Palestine, there is a lack of infrastructure and established artistic institutions, making it challenging for theater practitioners like Amir Nizar Zuabi to thrive. However, they have a strong need and desire to share their perspectives on the world they live in through their work.

Q: What is the concept behind "The Walk" project?

"The Walk" is a rolling arts festival that spans 8,000 kilometers and travels through 65 cities, towns, and villages. Led by a nine-year-old Syrian girl named Amal, the project aims to create 120 events of welcome along the way. The goal is to challenge perceptions about refugees and showcase their potential, cultural richness, and shared humanity.

Q: How is "The Walk" received by communities and audiences?

"The Walk" has received an incredibly positive response from communities and audiences along the journey. The events and installations created by partners have been met with enthusiasm and engagement. The hope is that encountering Amal and participating in these events will inspire compassion, curiosity, and a new way of thinking about refugees.

Q: How is Amal, the puppet, brought to life during "The Walk"?

Amal is a 3.5-meter puppet created by the Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa. She is brought to life by three sets of puppeteers who have been trained to give her gesture and nuance. With a total of 12 people in the company, they walk Amal from start to finish, animating her and making her journey believable.

Q: How is "The Walk" making an impact beyond its physical route?

"The Walk" aims to leave a lasting impact by creating a network of thousands of people of goodwill along the entire route. It hopes to foster a corridor of friendship and a new way of thinking about refugees in today's world. The project invites everyone to follow Amal's journey and encourages individuals to welcome her in their own unique way.

Q: How has the arts influenced and changed perceptions about refugees?

The arts, as demonstrated by projects like "The Walk," have the power to change minds and challenge perceptions about refugees. Through storytelling, theater, and artistic experiences, the potential, cultural richness, and shared humanity of refugees can be showcased, breaking away from viewing them solely as a problem or issue.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Amir Nizar Zuabi is a theater practitioner from East Jerusalem, with a mixed heritage of Jewish and Palestinian background

  • He fell in love with theater as a teenager and became a theater practitioner, despite the lack of infrastructure and artistic institutions in Palestine

  • Inspired by the refugee crisis in 2015, Zuabi started "The Walk," a rolling arts festival led by a 3.5-meter puppet named Amal, which will travel 8,000 kilometers across 65 cities, towns, and villages, aiming to challenge the perception of refugees and celebrate shared humanity and hope.

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