Edward Moallem - The First Day of Work - 1983

The story of founding “El Hakawati” theatre is one of a kind. It runs back to 1983 when the troupe of Abu Salem rented the burnt down “Nuzha” Cinema in the heart of East Jerusalem, which was then regulated under the Jordanian law, and was considered the cultural capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and was also located right across the street from the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the theatre of “El Hakawati” witnessed a number of downs before it saw the light in 1983, as it was bombed by an air missile in the war of 1967, leading it to its first period of decline, not long before it was burned down again by religious fundamentalists on the basis of rumors claiming it played erotic films. Shortly thereafter, the theatre’s site unfortunately became a public dump where, local legends stated, illegal activities took place.

“El Hakawati” was promised a new fate, however, as the Troup of “Abu Salem” decided to get hold of it to miraculously transform this deserted cinema, within six months, into a world class theatre that opened its gates wide to the world in May, 1984. In the following years, and under the leadership of “El Hakawati”, the theatre had functionally become, not only the most prominent theatre in Jerusalem, but also Palestine’s most sought after theatrical space, and its shining face to the world.

El-Hakawati Building, 2020
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