The three refugees in a 2011 production of Women in War in Beirut. Photo: Marwan Taitah
Articles, Reviews, Volume 7

Jawad Al-Assadi’s Women in War: Troubling, Troubled and Troublesome Female Refugees

Jawad Al-Assadi’s Women in War: Troubling, Troubled and Troublesome Female Refugees
By Hadeel Abdelhameed
Arab Stages, Volume 7 (Fall, 2017)
©2017 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

Women in War (first published in 2003) is a play written by the Iraqi playwright Jawad Al-Assadi which concerns the dilemma of Arab female refugees who in turn reflect the instability of Middle East as it witnesses clashes of war, uprisings, and political instability.  The play is, I believe, unique in this century. It goes beyond women’s involvement in war; it rather examines the dynamics of war and how established identities can change according to the circumstances of the female victims of war. The rapidly shifting geographies of the Arab world has created this impermanence. The play can also be considered as an open script that describes any war happening in any place at any time, a transnational theatre piece that can be presented and adapted to different settings, contexts and characters. The play presents war as a death machine that has been consuming Arabic women’s lives, as it has consumed the lives of women all over the globe.

The play presents three female refugees, from Iraq, Palestine, and Algeria, who meet in one of Germany’s detention centers. The characters are as follows: an Iraqi performer, Ameena, who decided to escape Iraq after she was threatened by supporters of the Baathists regimes; the second character is a Palestinian woman, Mariam, who was hit by the stock of an Israeli soldiers’ gun; and the third character is an Algerian woman, Reyhana, who led a free life but was afraid of being slaughtered by one of the Islamic extremists in her country. In 2005, Al-Assadi produced the play in Iraq. The identities of the characters there were changed into three Iraqi women with different backgrounds. By 2010 the characters’ ethnic identity changed again, so that they became three Iraqi Kurdish women. After about four years of war in Syria, Al-Assadi presented the play in 2015 under a new name, Women Without God, and changed the national identity of the three female refugees into three Syrian women. The production has continued in 2017 under the name Women Without Tomorrow, directed by Noor Ghanim with different stories of female refugees.

| | | Next → |
Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar