Written and performed by Justin Butcher
Directed by Matilda Reith
Designed by Sarah Mercadé
Sound Design by Jack C. Arnold
Video Design by Damian Hale, David Shepherd & Christian Krupa
2017 marked three major anniversaries in the Palestinian struggle: the centenary of the Balfour declaration, the fiftieth year of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the tenth year of the blockade of Gaza.
To change the record after a century of injustice, a pilgrimage set out to walk from London to Jerusalem – in penance, solidarity, and hope. This was the inspiration of award-winning playwright and actor Justin Butcher (Scaramouche Jones, The Madness of George Dubya, The Devil’s Passion), who worked with human rights charity Amos Trust to mount the Just Walk to Jerusalem, June – November 2017.
Calling for full equal rights for all in the Holy Land, more than one hundred walkers took part. Nine walked the whole way. This is their story – walking journals and travellers’ tales on paths of pilgrimage and conquest, from monasteries and mountain passes to Bedouin camps and desert wadis across Europe and the Middle East – brought to life in a dynamic new show.
In a playful and inventive blend of theatre and stand-up directed by Genesis-shortlisted director Matilda Reith (The Good Times, The Andrew Project, Hotel Room) and designed by Sarah Mercadé (Southern Belles, Leave A Message, Manon Lescaut), with a haunting and evocative soundscape by Jack C. Arnold (Wild Rose, War & Peace, Holy Flying Circus, Albatross) and video montage created from live footage along the route by award-winning artists Damian Hale, David Shepherd and Christian Krupa (Sigur Rós, Chemical Brothers, U2).
Along Roman roads and refugee routes, with occasional outbreaks of blisters, tear gas and desert spirituality, virtuoso storyteller Justin Butcher traces the perils, pratfalls and marvels of the path to Jerusalem. A chronicle of serendipity: happenstances hilarious, infuriating and occasionally numinous – or, as pilgrims might say, encounters with the Divine.
“So impressive... Displays the kind of unusual empathy essential in that tangled and tragic situation” Brian Eno— artist & musician
“An incredibly moving and fascinating pilgrim’s tale of love, humour and solidarity” Rosalind Nashashibi— 2017 Turner Prize Nominee
“Justin Butcher leads us on a fascinating and thoughtful tour through history into the heart of the politics of contemporary Palestine” Jeremy Hardy
“Butcher relights the flames of hope in our age of hopelessness” Yasmin Alibhai-Brown — columnist of the year 2016, British press awards