COULD YOU PLEASE LOOK INTO THE CAMERA? by Mohammad Al Attar, directed by Omar Abusaada. © Omar Abusaada / Mohammad Al Attar
Volume 1

Where Theatre Has Failed—The Syrians Omar Abusaada and Mohammad Al Attar

Where Theatre Has Failed—The Syrians
Omar Abusaada and Mohammad Al Attar
by Rolf C. Hemke
This article first appeared in
Theater im arabischen Sprachraum/Theatre in the Arab World
Edited by Rolf C. Hemke, Theater der Zeit, 2013
It is reproduced with permission from the publishing house, THEATER DER ZEIT, Berlin, Germany.
 Arab StagesVolume 1, Number 1 (Fall 2014)
 ©2014 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

“Can we talk about football?” Mohammad Al Attar’s ironic question at the beginning of our conversation pointedly sums up the situation. Author Al Attar, and his congenial director Omar Abusaada, obviously cannot stop themselves from reflecting on the conflict in their homeland Syria and its impact on their lives and art. But it is their mix of artistic endeavor, staunchly-formulated political opinion and joie de vivre, often turning into sneering, anarchical humor and loud laughter, that fills my encounter with these two extraordinary theatre-makers, and gives it its charm and depth—even if at times one cannot help feeling it is them laughing at the absurdity of life. It is exactly this foundation that gives dimension to Intimacy, which premiered at the Homeworks Festival in Beirut in May 2013.

The play outlines the life story of the main actor Yaser Abdellatif in snatches and by association, as well as providing us with a portrait of his character: following the 1989 military coup d’état the black Sudanese actor emigrated as a student from Khartoum to Damascus, where he became a star. More than 20 years later the conflict in Syria forced him to return to his former homeland as a stranger. For all this time he was considered a Sudanese in Syria, but in the eyes of his compatriots he has become Syrian.

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