Despite the hectic weeks of the final examination period, the auditorium was quite full. The audience members were handed small brown envelopes as they entered the theater venue, the purpose of which was to be discovered at the end of the play. And so the night of June 13 started with a mystery.
The play in the school theatre at sprawling United Arab Emirates University in Al Ayn, a suburb of Abu Dhabi, was OBEY II—the Ides of March. It highlighted the current miseries of Syria, focusing on the horrible massacres of late, with children being the main victims. The play was a production by the Fundamentals of Stage production class, written and directed by UAEU faculty member Dr. James Mirrione. The cast performed their play on Tuesday’s night June 13th 2012.
Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb (played by Fatima Al Kindi) was the main character whose torture and death was based on a true story. Following the on-stage rendition of Hamza’s death, the villagers noticed leashes on their necks, after which they cried out in turns over the situations that awoke each of them – in most instances the loss of a beloved one.
A humorous touch occurs when the tyrant asks for a national eye exam to be conducted. From the scattered letters, all subjects read “O, B, E, Y!”
The sound system played Kashmir songs as the visuals showed demonstrations and bits of the massacres in Syria on two screens behind the cast. Hints of time travel were illustrated as OBEY II borrowed parts from Julius Caesar’s play. A symbolic approach was also intertwined throughout the story: Director Mirrione and the cast trotted out a Pegasus — a winged horse drawn by Hamza. It was a symbolic attempt to remind the villagers that ideas can take flight if we let them, and day after day, can flourish and spread.
When the body of Hamza was tossed at his mother’s feet, his soul appeared and gave a moving speech, telling the audience that he was only one name among thousands. He then poignantly opened up a brown envelop to read out another name – and then asked the audience to stand and read their own envelopes. This simple act of solidarity aimed to give a voice to all those who were lost. A productive question\answer session was held afterwards between the audience and the cast.
Last year’s production – OBEY l: 18 days – was based on the Egyptian revolution demanding the president move out of office.
*The author was a member the play’s crew and is a student at UAEU. She will be contributing regularly to ASIAMEDIA. This is her first contribution.