Iraqi refugee’s play against Iraq occupation

This video from the USA is about the Wilton High School play controversy.

“A group of high school students in a small Connecticut town wanted to perform a play telling the stories of actual soldiers in Iraq. But their school said no, afraid it might offend members of their community.”

From London daily The Morning Star:

Flung back to year zero

(Thursday 12 July 2007)

Baghdad Wedding

Soho Theatre, London W1

TOM MELLEN discovers a catastrophically broken and traumatised society when he sees occupied Iraq through the eyes of an Iraqi.

DRAMATISTS have churned out umpteen plays about Iraq over the last five years, but this one is unique because it is the first one by an Iraqi.

As an academic who has lived in London since the 1990s, Hassan Abdulrazzak not only remembers the enduring daily rhythms of his beloved Baghdad, he knows how to translate them for a British audience too.

Abdulrazzak, who works as a biochemistry researcher at Imperial College during the day, must be chuffed.

Baghdad Wedding, his first play, has won critical acclaim and it seems to be keeping the punters very happy, especially judging by the level of interest at the Soho Theatre on Dean Street last week, which was so chock-a-block it was almost standing room only.

It is as if the theatre-going public – and Joe Public too – is hoping that playwrights will convey the reality of what is unfolding in Iraq more honestly than the mainstream media.

But that alone does not explain the success of Abdulrazzak’s play. Londoners are flocking to see it because it is exciting, fast-paced and extremely entertaining.

Director Lisa Goldman whips us through a frenetic series of scenes, times and places, from London in 1998 to Baghdad in 2005, taking in love triangles, shisha pipes, homoerotic obsessions, errant smart bombs and Abu Ghraib along the way.

Matt Rawle is captivating as the louche, hard-drinking bisexual Salim, easily giving Richard E Grant’s Withnail a run for his money.

Sirine Saba also stands out as Luma, who powerfully personifies the inner strength and shattered hopes and dreams of millions of Iraqi women.

The supporting cast of US interrogators, Fallujan resistance fighters and middle-class Baghdadis all seem to jostle for centre-stage, delivering a compelling two hours of action-packed drama which is mercifully leavened by lashings of belly laughter.

But don’t expect any great insight into daily life for ordinary Iraqis – Abdulrazzak’s primary focus is territory with which he seems to be most at home – the relatively “Westernised” and well-off intelligensia.

While the characters of wealthy Salim and Luma are three dimensional, the Iraqi guerillas are crude cardboard cut-outs, more or less noble savages.

Perhaps this mirrors the gulf between what remains of the educated, secular, democratically inclined Iraqi elite and the ordinary people, who bear the brunt of the occupation and make up the ranks of the resistance.

It is this that makes Abdulrazzak’s piece so unique – the painfully stark portrayal of the moral, emotional and ultimately political crisis that the secular Iraqi intelligensia finds itself in.

Witty, charming Salim goes from pro-war “pragmatist,” thrilled to breathe “the oxygen of freedom” after the fall of Saddam, to being unhinged by the systematic brutality of the military occupiers.

His loyal friend, fellow medical student Marwan, sees no hope for the future of his country, desperately seeking a way to flee, while Luma, who, as a student in London, was a free-loving, scotch-guzzling liberal, becomes a hijab-wearing abused wife back in Iraq.

She sees it as necessary to be an at least outwardly god-fearing Muslim, if only to boost her life chances in “modernised” Iraq.

Abdulrazzak is not the first person to depict the new medievalism that the “democratic” invaders have brought to Iraq. But he is the first Iraqi to present for an English-speaking audience the catastrophic breakdown of Iraqi civil society, as a result of war, sanctions and more war, from a liberal, secular point of view.

This sensitive, searing indictment of “liberal interventionism” is all the more damning for coming, not from the mouths of Islamists or left-wingers, but from liberal middle class Iraqis themselves.

Plays until July 21. Box office: 0870 429 6883.

US Iraq war veterans on the war: here.

Refugees from Iraq: here.

3 thoughts on “Iraqi refugee’s play against Iraq occupation

  1. Pingback: Iraq war 2003-2016, new film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: London bomb abused for Internet censorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Trump continues US oil war in Iraq | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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