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Olive Jar جرّة زيتون by Elias Matar


Olive Jar was an original theatre performance that took place at Grand Junction on 6 – 8 July 2023 and 25 – 27 April 2024.

The performance celebrated London’s Arab communities and the extraordinary stories that ordinary people can tell. From stories of winding journeys to a new place, of half-remembered memories passed down through the generations, of finding a little bit of home in a big city, and marks what changes and what stays the same.

Scroll down to discover more about the stories shared on our stage.

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جرّة زيتون

إلياس مطر

يقدم كراند جنكشن ومهرجان شباك عرض أدائي جديد يحتفي بالمجتمعات العربية في غرب لندن والقصص غير العادية التي يمكن أن يرويها الاشخاص العاديون.


شجرة الزيتون تُجَذِرنا في الارض، وتوفر الأمل والغذاء على موائدنا. مثل الزيتون هي قصصنا تنتظر، مختبئة ومحفوظة في برطماناتنا وجرارنا، ليتم مشاركتها والبوح عنها، وكما الزيتون بعضها مراً والبعض الاخر حلواً.


تَحمِل جرة الزيتون قصصاً عن رحلات متعرجة الى مكانٍ جديد، بقايا من الذاكرة المتناقلة عبر الأجيال، البحث عن القليل من الوطن في المدينة الكبيرة، وتحديد ما يبقى على حاله وما يتغير. يأخذ العرض الأدائي الجمهور الى عالم مليئ بالإثارة وبأجواء التمكن و المقاومة ، حيث يمكن مشاركة الشاي والزيتون مع اصدقاء جدد.

سيتضمن العرض موسيقى وغناء حي مع المطربة الفلسطينية رُبا شمشوم، عازفة القيثارة  جورجيا بوب و عازف الايقاع نونو بريتو


إزدَهَرَ عرض جرّة زيتون منذ ما يقارب العام في ورشة عمل مع المشتركين من المجتمع المحلي ، لاستكشاف التراث الغني لسكان غرب لندن من وسوريا والعراق وفلسطين ولبنان والجزائر ومصر وغيرها من البلدان العربية. انها دعوة لأولئك الذين ليدهم تراث عربي لمشاركة هذه القصص المألوفة، وايضا لأي شخص يهوى قوة وتأثير الحكايات وسردها الذي يجمعنا ويقربنا من بعض.

Olive Jar

by Elias Matar

An original theatre performance celebrating London’s Arab communities and the extraordinary stories that ordinary people can tell

The olive tree roots us to our land, on our tables they offer hope as well as food. Like olives, our stories wait, hidden and preserved in their jars, to be shared. Some will be bitter, and others sweet.

Olive Jar holds stories of winding journeys to a new place, of half-remembered memories passed down through the generations, of finding a little bit of home in a big city, and marks what changes and of what stays the same. The performance leads the audience into an atmospheric world of empowerment and resistance, where tea and olives can be shared with new friends.

The show featured live music from Palestinian singer Ruba Shamshoum, Georgie Pope (harp) and Nuno Brito (percussion)

Olive Jar blooms from nearly a year of workshops with the community local to the Grand Junction venue, exploring the rich heritage of Londoners from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Performed in English with some parts in Arabic.

Directed by Elias Matar

Co-commissioned by Grand Junction and Shubbak Festival

Generously supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, and Mayor of London

Olive Jar bloomed from nearly a year of workshops with the community local to the Grand Junction venue, exploring the rich heritage of West Londoners from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and beyond.


Sarah Joy Dawoud, Iraq- Assyrian | Nasrin Trabulsi, Syria | Amal Faisal, Saudi Arabia | Mariam Al-Hussona, Algeria | Hafiza Ibrahim, Palestine | Lana Alwaily, Iraq | Adam Farhat, Lebanon | Ali A. Al-shimar, Kuwait-Iraq | Lina Alchami, Syria | Majida Jawhar, Palestine | Ali, Iraq-Syria | Phayaphi Alkhayoon, Iraq


Elias Matar, Director:

Director, playwright and performer Elias Matar grew up in Ibillin Village in Galilee and is now based in London. Elias founded Ibillin Theatre and El Bayet Centre for Performing Arts, for whom he directed site-specific production, Rooms. Other directing credits include A Dress of My Own, a feminist dance theatre production for El Amal Dance Company (Nazratheh), Needle and Thin Thread for Almanarah Institution (Nazareth), and Nisan Darkness, a musical production of El Karawan Choir (Ibillin). He was a senior member of Salma Dance Company (Haifa), where he co-directed and taught drama. In the UK, Elias has performed in a number of festivals around the UK, including The Journey Home, an interactive site-specific play for Asha Centre (Gloucestershire).

Ruba Shamshoum, Composer and Musician:

Ruba is a Palestinian musician, born and raised in Nazareth and currently living in London. A creator of poetic dream pop, a fusion of soulful sounds – Her voice encapsulates jazz elements and Middle Eastern vibes with colourful harmonies. Ruba self-released her debut album ‘Shamat’ (2017), written and released by her, as well as her EP ‘Risha’ (2021) which was produced by Grammy-nominated producer Alev Lenz. She wrote music for the film “When I Saw You”, and has released songs that were part of top indie charts in the Middle East and North Africa. Ruba has collaborated on tracks with musicians from Ireland and the Middle East, as well as performing on stage at international festivals in Ireland, the UK, and the Middle East.

Katherina Radeva, Set and Costume Designer:

Katherina is a set and costume designer, a theatre maker and a visual artist. Born in the Thracian Valley, Bulgaria, Katherina has lived in the UK since 1999. Her multi-award-winning designs have been seen on all continents and her practice as a theatre maker and co-artistic director of Two Destination Language tours is extensive in the UK and internationally. She is a vocal campaigner for inclusion and diversity and fair pay for arts and cultural workers. Her visual artwork has been exhibited across Europe and the United States.



Mike Tweddle, Dramaturg:

Mike is a theatre director, writer, dramaturg and teacher. From 2016-22 he was the Artistic Director of Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol, where he directed five productions and provided script development and dramaturgy for seven new plays. Before Bristol, Mike co-led the theatre ensemble Out of Chaos, directing and writing shows that toured to over 200 theatres and won three international awards. He also created work with performance collective Babakas, including the critically acclaimed Our Fathers which toured Poland, Lebanon and the UK. From 2010-2015 Mike was co-founder and co-director of BE FESTIVAL, Birmingham’s European theatre festival.

Nigel Edwards, Lighting Designer:

Nigel is a lighting designer who has spent 33 years with  Forced Entertainment,  21 with Michael Laub/Remote Control and 14 with  Ryuichi Sakamoto. Nigel’s recent work includes Hear The Angels Sing by Magnetic North, This Is Memorial Device at Wee Red Bar, Marc Almond UK tour, Hold Tight by Vincent Dance, War Requiem Nitin Sawnhney/Coventry Cathedrals. He has also worked with Anthony Neilson, Mark Ravenhill, Vicky Featherstone, Debbie Tucker-Green, Fumiyo Ikeda, Diamanda Galas, Jeff Beck, Heiner Goebbels, Wendy Houstoun, Nightmares on Wax, Ensemble Modern, James MacDonald, Pamela Carter, Joss Pook, Sarah Kane, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Simon Stephens, The People Show, The Right Size, getinthebackofthevan.

Thom Ashworth, Production Manager

Thom Ashworth has been a freelance musician, sound engineer and videographer for more than 20 years. Recent credits include projects with Goldie, Talvin Singh, and Shakespeare’s Globe. As a folk musician, Thom is a critically acclaimed singer and bassist, described by FRUK as “like a modern day Martin Carthy”. A long-term member of Sam Lee’s The Nest Collective, Thom co-created the immersive online experience Singing With Nightingales: Live, which blends improvised music with remote broadcast of live birdsong from the woodlands of Sussex.


Laila Latifa, Stage Manager:

A freelance theatre professional of Moroccan, Irish and English heritage. Most notable for her playwriting, having been longlisted for The Royal Shakespeare Companies’ 37 plays. Latifa co-founded two thousand and one productions, a theatrical production company championing underrepresented, Gen Z creatives. Latifa will be taking her third play Conscience to The Cockpit this August. Latifa’s backstage credits include A Number at The Old Vic, The Lesson (touring production) by Icarus Theatre Collective and This is not a party at New Diorama Theatre and Camden People’s Theatre.

The Olive Jar marked the end of the first year of Grand Junction’s Our Shared Heritage project, a two-year programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. In the second year of the project, we have continued to celebrate the local Middle Eastern and North African communities through collaborative workshops, inviting cultural exchange and connection. The Places We Carry art exhibition showcases the results of these interactions, narrating the unique journeys, evolving identities, and histories of places and people, and shared experiences, through the eyes of local residents.

The Places We Carry Digital Exhibition coming soon

Additional information



Ticket Price

£6 Concession Ticket, £12 Standard Ticket

Event Details

Thank you for booking tickets to 'Olive Jar جرة زيتون by Elias Matar' on Friday 26 April at Grand Junction, at St Mary Magdalene's Church. We look forward to seeing you there!


Date: Friday 26 April 2024

Time: 8pm

Running Time:  Approx. 1 hour 20 minutes

Venue:  Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Rowington Close, London W2 5TF

Seating: All tickets are unreserved seating, allocated on a first come first served basis. Please arrive early before the concert starts if you have preferred seats.

How to get to us:

By tube: Nearest stations are Royal Oak (Hammersmith & City, Circle) and Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo).

By train: Travel by train to Paddington Station (National Rail services, Elizabeth line, Circle and District, Bakerloo, Hammersmith & City line).

By bus: 18, 27, 28, 46 and 6 buses all stop nearby.

We look forward to welcoming you to our venue and will be in touch closer to the event with further details. In the meantime, stay up-to-date on Grand Junction news and events by signing up for our newsletter, following us on social media @grandjunctionw2 and visiting our website grandjunction.org.uk.

Start time: 20:00 BST

End time: 21:20 BST

Venue: Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene's

Phone: 02072668258

Email: info@grandjunction.org.uk