Friday, September 21, 2012

Iraqi Ghosts

 How to express the reality of war? The three young Iraqi artists each have survived three wars. That is nine wars right here, says one of the actors. True enough. There are as many wars as there are participants, victims and survivors, as many wars as people have to live true them. The play is disquieting, loud, funny, clashing, a confrontation with what we have only seen or heard in the media. It is the personal experience of the three Iraqi actors which informs this play. The female roles are performed by Flemish/German actresses. The audience is eased into the drama of war through the first scene with the actors wearing animal masks, animals as victims of war too. I particularly like that each scene was introduced and 'framed', explained and thus creating expectations as to what is to come and how long the particular scene will take.
The vivid images created on the scene, incorporating elements of home - oriental carpets, couscous, food, projected film - are all elements of the questions raised: What is war? How do people live in times of war? The three main images which follow are: The day before the war, marked by fear, tension and preparing for what one cannot prepare. The next scene is the day after the war when distrust reigns, when old friends no longer dare to shake hands. Who is a friend anyway and who is foe? The third day there is war. One of the actresses states: I feel alive, all worries have been lifted, all the rest is unimportant. Now it is all about survival. The performance, albeit very personal, is reaching for a universal almost physical language. In the play language plays a main part: the two actresses speak in German, English and Dutch and a few times almost grammolo, often as a consecutive rendering of the texts spoken in Farsi. To me that was mesmerising. Iraqi Ghosts is a play by Mokhallad Rasem in cooperation and improvisation with the actors Duraid Abba, Sarah Eisa, Ahmed Khaled, Julia Clever.
Remember: Peace is the way.

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