The play is based on testimonies gathered from the overcrowded refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan by performing artist and writer Corinne Jaber, and director Amir Nizar Zuabi. It depicts the state of the humanitarian crisis in Syria through the eyes of a half-Syrian woman who lives in Paris
One-act play “Oh My Sweet Land,” featuring just one actor, was staged at the experimental theatre hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Monday evening.
The initiative to stage the play was taken by Goethe-Institut Bangladesh in cooperation with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
The play is based on testimonies gathered from the overcrowded refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan by performing artist and writer Corinne Jaber, and director Amir Nizar Zuabi. It depicts the state of the humanitarian crisis in Syria through the eyes of a half-Syrian woman who lives in Paris.
According to the plot, the woman travels to the Middle East in pursuit of her refugee activist lover, Ashraf, who has disappeared. During her search, she encounters the abandoned Syrians who have become silent bearers of the cruelty of the war.
Corinne and Amir intended to exhibit the perseverance of all those who had to flee the country, and those who had to stay behind. The refugees’ only remaining hope was God. During her performance, Jaber said: “The Syrians are in a nation completely abandoned by the rest of the world, and they know it. Nobody else is listening.”
While recounting her quest-story onstage, she prepares and cooks kubah, a traditional Syrian dish. The cooking seems to calm her agitation with the muscle memory of this ritual. However, intimations of atrocity start to gather around the slap of raw meat and the sizzle of boiling oil.
Her character announced each destination that she encountered in her desperate search, and in this way, the audience were transported from Paris to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Her vocal range allows her to bring to life men and women, as well as communities and street scenes, with ease.
The play ends with the actor leaving open the door of her refrigerator, which shows stacks of red meat piled in the shelves inside. Corinne confirmed to Dhaka Tribune Showtime, that this particular act at the ending was meant to signify the visceral state of some of the victims of the Syrian war. Even if the recollections of their story may one day stop, the bodies of the victims have reached such a pitiable state, that comparisons with meat about to be cooked is not too far-fetched.
In Corinne’s words, the play is important because “it talks about the world we live in, right now, at this very moment, in a place not very far away.”
In the question answer session following her performance, Corinne said: “To imagine that theatre will change anything is just a silly dream…but at least for a moment people have the possibility to be aware of something for a small second.”
For several years now, Corinne has been touring all over the world performing “Oh My Sweet Land.”
She is a German-Syrian theatre artist based between Paris and London. She started her career performing in Peter Brook’s “Mahabharata.” For her performance in “Beast on the moon,” she received the Molière Prize for best actress in France.
Since then, she has been performing as an actor in many plays, both in English and French, as well as directing and writing plays regularly. She worked with Afghan actors in and out of Afghanistan for many years, and their collaboration lead to an adaptation of “Comedy of Errors” at the Globe Theatre in London. She is currently beginning a series of workshops on her most recent play “The Small Things,” a play on the partition of India and Pakistan, and the role UK played in separating the two nations.
The technical direction and lighting design for “Oh My Sweet Land” was by Nicolas Chorier.