Mokhallad Rasem meets an almost impossible challenge with brio, staging a play, imbued with humour and beauty, about the disasters that have befallen the Iraqi people because of war.
Featuring spoof TV interviews, a droll riff on a Disney film, preparations for dinner amidst tumult and turmoil, a body slung over a man’s shoulder like an old carpet and the music of Nirvana, this play is an urgent cry, howling that we have not heard the last of Iraqi youth. Mokhallad Rasem meets an almost impossible challenge with brio, staging a play, imbued with humour and beauty, about the disasters that have befallen the Iraqi people because of war.
In a dozen tableaux, Irakese Geesten exposes the daily life of a people ravaged by war, yet still keenly passionate for poetry. Assisted by Iraqi actors and Belgian-German actresses, the director skilfully juggles with the past and the present, fiction and reality, surrealism and pragmatism. This is theatre under tension that trammels clichés with welcome irony.
Replete with fervent bodies, vigorous movement, pandemonium and fighting, the piece swarms with furious energy, full of jubilant life despite the devastation.
PRODUCED BY MONTY
DIRECTED BY MOKHALLAD RASEM
CO-CREATED AND PERFORMED BY DURAID ABBAS + JULIA CLEVER + SARAH EISA + AHMED KHALED + MOKHALLAD RASEM
WRITTEN BY DIANE JEAN
TRANSLATED BY NEIL KROETSCH
PREMIERED AT MONTY, ANDWERP, APRIL 22, 2010
MOKHALLAD RASEM (BAGDAD + ANVERS)
At the ripe old age of 30, Mokhallad Rasem has created outstanding works that have been highly acclaimed. His clear aesthetics and his fragmented storytelling make for stunning pieces that convey a contagious dynamism. The son of a celebrated Iraqi actor, Rasem grew up with a love of theatre. He began his career at the National Theatre of Baghdad, where he presented works from the Western canon such as Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Strindberg’s A Dream Play, in addition to staging works with the theatre troupe Fadaa El Timrin El Moustemer. Their presentation of Sorry, Sir, I Didn’t Mean It won the best play award at the 2004 International Experimental Theatre Festival in Cairo.
While the company was touring Germany in 2005, Mokhallad Rasem decided to stay in Europe and settled in Belgium. In Antwerp he joined forces with the Monty theatre company, creating BagdadBelgië.com, which focused on cultural differences between Belgians and Iraqis, and BagdadMonde.com, an exploration of Iraqis’ relations with the outside world. After its première in 2010, Irakese Geesten was presented at the Vlaams Theaterfestival 2010 in Belgium, and won the KBC Creation Prize for Young Theatre at the 2010 Theater aan Zee festival in Ostend.