Actor and Colleague of Juliano Mer Khamis
Max Budovitch: First of all, can you introduce yourself and describe your career in acting and theater?
Saleh Bakri: I am Saleh Bakri, I have been working since, as an actor, since 2000 and I was in my last show, my performance in theater, was directed by Juliano Mer Khamis last summer. It was the “Gift and the Maiden.” It was an adaptation from the movie for the play. It was successful work, it was a great work with this great man. And we lost him. We just lost him in this ugly, ugly way.
MB: How would you describe Juliano as an artist. What was he trying to accomplish and what was he trying to do?
SB: First of all, he was great artist. He was a freedom fighter. Freedom was his…everything in him was freedom…shouting freedom. His work, his presence, his voice, his words, everything in him was shouting freedom. He was the founder. He founded the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Camp, continuing his mother’s project in Jenin Camp, which was the Freedom Theatre. And unfortunately, he was killed. They tried to also kill his project, of course.
MB: Juliano was half Israeli and half Palestinian, how do you think this identity shaped his work and shaped his personal relationships?
SB: I don’t understand, again please?
MB: [repeat question]
SB: I think he understood both sides more than most of people here in Palestine-Israel because of his strategy and this duality continued to be his motto, his need, to change this place. I think that’s why this concept was so personal to him. All what he has done was so personal to him. And this makes his tragedy more tragical, I think.
MB: But do you think his message and his project will continue now, event though he’s gone?
SB: I think it will continue and I think what happened was successful for all people who care in freedom, who care really about change, real change and real peace in this area. I think they will all be stronger after this tragical story. I think that the Theatre will continue. Of course it will continue. It won’t continue as it was before because Juliano was a very special man. But I believe it will continue, yes. He has created all the Freedom Theatre—his students are so full of him and so full of his view that they are full of his strength. I believe that they will continue. He left them a great great great present.
MB: So you think much of his power came from his ability to teach and his relationships with his students?
SB: Yes, yes of course. He had—he worked, our work, in our artistic world, his relationships with everybody that he worked with, were so deep. In any project that he did, it was so deep. He cut into a deep relationship with everybody—with everybody that works with him—because that was so deep for him. This work was so deeply rooted in him. And that’s how he built relationships with people that worked with him and the people who shared the same beliefs.
MB: How has the community in Haifa reacted to this tragedy?
SB: It is very difficult to perceive the tragedy. It is difficult for me, personally, and for a lot of people in Haifa. It is difficult to perceive and understand what happened It is difficult to speak of him already in terms of past. It is a big loss. A big loss.
MB: Looking into the future, do you think that your art and your career will be changed by his passing, by this tragedy?
BS: I think it will affect us. Of course it will affect us. It is related to us and related to time. I believe that we, that this tragedy will make us stronger. It will make us stronger and it has opened a lot of eyes of what is happening really in Palestinian society.
MB: Last question—do you think that Palestinians and Israelis reacted differently to his death, seeing that he did straddle the border in a way.
BS: I don’t know really. I don’t know how to answer your question. But people who believed to fend off occupation and they would build the framework, I believe. I think that Palestinians and Israelis are in the same ship.
MB: Thank you, Saleh, for your time and your thoughts
SB: Thank you as well.