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© Pierre Yves Massot

Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence

Mohammad Al Attar, Omar Abusaada,
Bissane Al Charif

Aleppo, a city destroyed by war, rises from the ashes in the stories of its inhabitants. Precious tales told to one spectator at a time, a testimonial and a bequest.


Aleppo, a beloved city, a city destroyed. But remembered by its exiled citizens. Their stories bring back to life a hill, a mosque, a popular restaurant, all reduced to ruins. Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence conveys the cruelty of war but also the fundamental power of memory in the face of destruction.

The Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar gathered ten stories from ten inhabitants of Aleppo and then entrusted them to ten Montreal actors. Seated at the same table in the touching vertigo of one-on-one, an actor tells one of the precious tales to one spectator. Against a backdrop of an oversized map of Aleppo and in the intimacy of a theatre space, a city is reborn, a culture and a past brought back to life. A look at a Syria that goes beyond the clichés of the bombarded country portrayed in the media, Aleppo gives voice to those who resist, who forcefully reconstruct with words the beauty of a place now buried in rubble. Necessary.


Produced by HKV-Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) + Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Zürich) 
Concept and Text Mohammad Al Attar in collaboration Omar Abusaada + Bissane Al Charif 
Directed by Omar Abusaada 
Performed by Éloi ArchamBaudoin + Larissa Corriveau + Lyndz Dantiste + Nicolas Desfossés + Mohsen EL Gharbi + Ariel Ifergan + Simon Landry-Désy + Frédéric Lavallée + Bruno Marcil + Alice Pascual + Mattis Savard-Verhoeven
Set Design
Bissane Al Charif  
Director Assistant Elaine Normandeau  
Production Manager Meret Kiderlen 
Interviews by Sadik Abdul Rahman + Marcell Shehwaro + Odai Al Zoubi 
Map Design Alia Ramadan 
Translation Katharine Halls + Reem Harb + Lina Mounzer (English) + Nathalie Bontemps (French) 

Presented with the support of Cole Foundation+ Goethe-Institut Montréal + Ministère fédéral des Affaires étrangères d’Allemagne in association with Fonds GB 

Written by Elsa Pépin 
Translated by Neil Kroetsch 


© Giorgia Fanelli

Mohammad Al Attar (Damas + Berlin)

A new name in Syrian theatre, the writer Mohammad Al Attar, born in Damascus, now lives in Berlin. A prolific writer since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, his works focuses on the social and political role of theatre, and the Syrian revolution.

Full biography
© Isabelle Meister

Omar Abusaada (Damas)

For the past 10 years, Al Attar has been collaborating with the director Omar Abusaada, originally from Damascus. Together they create theatre that is intimately linked to social and political changes, works that hover on the boundary between fiction and documentation.

Full biography

Bissane Al Charif (Damas + Paris)

In 2017, Mohammad Al Attar and Omar Abusaada presented in Berlin Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence, working with the set designer Bissane Al Charif, a frequent collaborator. A native of Damascus now living in Paris, she also has been using her art in support of the Syrian people since 2011.