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Hossam Zuheika, puppeteer

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 07.12.2007:

Hossam Zuheika, born in Jerusalem in 1962, is a widely known puppeteer who has pioneered the style of integrating visual as well as sound effects into his shows in order to captivate children’s emotions and imagination without the use of words.

Zuheika’s interest in puppet making was triggered early on when he started to attend local festivals and puppet shows. In the early 1990s he took a number of courses in puppet making with Ola Brown at the Palestinian National Theatre. He then collaborated with French puppet maker Isabelle Veillon – a member of the Traffic Jam theatre group who had made puppets for many renowned French puppeteers – to produce their first puppet show: Said Wal Bolbol, directed by Mousa Izhman. His subsequent puppet shows, produced by the Palestinian National Theatre, include The Sneeze of a Magician, The Ass Kicks Asses, and The Mermaid. His most recent show, Kharbatita, was sponsored by the French Cultural Center in Jerusalem.

His puppet-making skill stems from his profession as a dental technician, which requires high proficiency in carving and making moulds. Materials used in that industry have also sparked Hossam’s creativity, and he uses these untraditional materials in puppet making – for example, latex, shoe glue, toilet paper, and gypsum moulds combined with screws, articulators, and rubber.

Zuheika’s workshop, where he spends most of his time, is located on the Mount of Olives and is divided into two intertwined worlds; walking through the bottom floor, one notices flasks, knives, and moulds, but the scenery abruptly changes from a dental laboratory to a puppet-making workshop as soon as one ascends to the upper floor.

After hours, if not days, spent on making a single puppet, the results speak volumes about his unconventional and creative skills. Every puppet he creates is different in its design and manoeuvring technique. Hossam says that he doesn’t mind spending so much time to make one puppet; what is important for him is maintaining his creativity and following his vision.

Mr. Zuheika has performed widely around the world in such countries as in Norway, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Egypt, and Jordan, in addition to his frequent participation in a number of international puppet festivals in France, such as the triennial Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes , Les p’tits 4 heures, and the Festival de Théâtre Jeune Public.

As part of the “Child Testimony” programme carried out by the Sabreen Association for Artistic Development, Hossam has also been very active in giving puppet-making workshops in schools across Palestine to help further children’s artistic development in otherwise deprived environments.

Hossam hopes that his puppet shows will not remain confined to the world of children as he aims to attract adult audiences as well to his puppet shows in Palestine.


This Week in Palestine

December 2007

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