The Association of Actors created by the Iraqi Youth Network (IYN) finished and performed their first piece on Iraqi identity for kids, a comedy that will go on tour at schools in the southern region of Iraq. A great deal of hard work, and the success in the first play has encouraged the board in the IYN to make the theatre pieces nationwide.
The board of the IYN emphasized that one of the major issues in Iraq right now, is the lack of national identity in the educational curriculum and politics in general. Iraq which is a proud country with a 12.000 year old history, known to be the cradle of civilization, the base of five of the greatest empires in history (Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon and Abbasid Caliphate), the birthplace of the first prophet (Abraham) and the graveyard of the greatest general (Alexander the Great), has now lost its identity after 40 years of war and internal conflict between Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.
This resulted into the decision of forming the Association of Actors, which will be hired to do plays on Iraqi identity for children. The association is lead by the critically acclaimed actor, Hassan Hantoosh, whom offered his services for free, as it has been his lifelong passion to do his directorial debut on Iraqi identity, which he has a passion for.
The first play is a comedy based on a gravedigger whom claims he is 12.000 years old, as he works alone in the graveyard, he has met people from all walks of life; he has seen the rise and fall of empires, seen the cultural change, the immigration of whole ethnicities and the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The play shows this ancient man meet people of different races, ethnicities and religions within the graveyard; all of them have some kind of prejudice towards their own neighbour. But as they speak; the language they use, the dialect, the expressions, the topics they choose to talk about; it is clear to the young audience that they have more in common than differences, especially their burial traditions and even, in their way of "disagreeing" with each other.
Sarcastically the old man pokes fun of the peoples "differences", playing dumbfound as he asks misleading questions, which leads to hilariously contradicting answers. Something that made the kids burst into laughter, as it is something they can relate to in their own homes when they hear their own parents talk "about those people from…"
As the play was reaching its end, the old man sat down to take a break and poured a cup of water for himself. As he finished drinking, he revealed who he was; he was ancient Iraq in its human form. As he looked at the kids, he proclaimed:
"I taught you to read and write, you choose to manifest yourself negatively towards each other. I gave you the first prophet; you choose to fight over whom can claim him. I gave you the first law; you choose to rebel against it. I gave you some of the greatest kings; you choose to kill them. I gave you great scientists; you poked fun of them. I know that in every family, there is sibling rivalry, but the differences stop when the father dies and the family is reunited through grievance. So do I really have to die at the hands of the dawla (ISIS), before you understand what you have lost?"
The play was highly praised by the teachers, saying that the play has created great interest in Iraq’s ancient history among the kids. Whilst the Directory of Culture in the Basra province have put out money, to financially fund 35 plays of the same kind in different schools in the governance of Basra.
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