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 “With my theatre family Troupe Courage, we decided that more than ever it was time to tell my story. My story of how my imagination became the freedom in my life.”

The horse of Jenin

Alaa's solo tells a universal story, it is about a boy growing up in Jenin, but like every child in the world, he most wants to play and have fun. It is a story about the resilience that imagination brings.


In April 2002, a major invasion took place in Jenin. In the aftermath, a German artist came over for an art workshop. After four weeks, with the help of 15 Palestinians, he unveiled the result. He had built a horse as tall as 5 metres out of metal fragments, debris from the bombing. They rode the horse through the city and everyone was proud of it, people felt lifted by it.

The horse is an Arabic symbol of freedom, but this horse was also a symbol of peaceful resistance. It was a symbol of resilience. Last November, an Israeli bulldozer entered the camp and the horse was removed. 

In this solo, Alaa wonders: what happened to the horse? Was it arrested? Did it go to court ? Was he able to defend himself ? Did they put him in jail ? Was the horse interrogated ? And did it then tell about the day Alaa tried to ride the horse with his best friend Ahmed ? 

With this solo, Alaa builds a new horse, constructed from the fragments of his memories supplemented with a huge dose of humour and imagination. A theatrical symbol of resistance and imagination. The performance is an ode to the power of imagination and the value of playing freely.


Play/Concept: Alaa Shehada 
Music: Remy van Kesteren
Directed by: Katrien van Beurden and Thomas van Ouwerkerk
Dramaturgy: Maarten Bos

Business direction: Monique Bos
Campaign image: Dario & Misja Photography

“When I was 13 years old, I discovered a small space at the camp in my hometown of Jenin (Palestine) where people tried to make theatre. Every day I snuck out of the house and discovered Hamlet, clowning and comedy in the middle of the camp. One day, a Dutch woman came with a suitcase full of masks with Courage characters.”
“I decided to step into this world of imagination for years. A world where I could become anyone I wanted to be, I could say anything I wanted to say and where I could pass checkpoints with my imagination and fly across the world in one breath.”

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Palestinian actor Alaa Shehada grows up in Jenin, Palestine. As a young boy, he flees the house at night to sneak into the local theatre in the camp (Freedom Theatre). When the Dutch actor group Troupe Courage travels there in 2011 with a bag full of masks and Alaa puts on a mask for the first time, something changes in him.

The artistic director of Troupe Courage, Katrien van Beurden, sees a talent in Alaa and especially his deep inner urgency to play (one of the most important prerequisites for a player at Troupe Courage). All at once, Alaa Shehada becomes a regular player at Troupe Courage.

For years, Alaa acquaints himself with mask-playing techniques and Courage storytelling. For a kid who used to run away from home, he exposes tremendous discipline.
He also toured in stand-up comedy shows with Mark Thomas, among others, set up the Palestine Comedy Club, works for Red Noses Palestine and is to this day associated with the Freedom Theatre.
At Troupe Courage, he stars in shows such as A Room With A View (2017) and The Hero of BB (2022). For each production, Alaa comes over from Palestine to co-star.

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Alaa solo
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