Absent by the Islamic State, the theater is active again in Anbar, Iraq, after stopping for years

The theatrical movement in Anbar Governorate, western Iraq, began to resume its activity after a hiatus for years due to the security conditions that the governorate witnessed during the past years, especially after the Islamic State’s control over it between 2014 and 2017.

Theatrical artists in Anbar present artistic performances classified as street theatre, in an attempt to draw attention to the role of theater in directing societal thought away from violence.

Ali Suleiman Al-Dulaimi stated that a theater hall with a capacity of 1200 people is currently being established in the Anbar Governorate (Al-Jazeera Net)

Replay the theaters

Ali Suleiman al-Dulaimi, advisor to the governor of Anbar for cultural affairs, points out that the province possesses many cultural statures, whether in the field of poetry, literature, novel and story, as well as in various arts such as plastic art of all kinds, music and theater.

He assures Al Jazeera Net that they in the local administration are working hard to revitalize the cultural and artistic movement in the province by holding festivals and conferences, and supporting departments, unions and cultural associations.

He added that the local government of Anbar held two annual festivals in the province, the first and second “Anbar Qatar Theater Festival”, as well as sponsoring and supporting the first Anbar Open Theater Festival, which was held by the Artists Syndicate in Anbar, where performances were presented in all districts of the province.

Al-Dulaimi notes that the theater building in Anbar was crushed by the machine of destruction and destruction, as it crushed many of the province’s landmarks, but a theater hall that can accommodate 1,200 people with all its accessories is currently being constructed, and the completion rate has reached more than 80%, and there are similar halls that will be established at the beginning of next year In all districts of the province.

Ahmed considers the Anbari theater one of the advanced theaters in Iraq (Al-Jazeera Net)

Local and Arabic offers

In turn, Hatem Abd Ahmed Maawon, director of the Palace of Culture and Arts in Anbar, said that the Ministry of Culture opened the Palace of Culture and Arts in the province and 4 cultural houses, as well as established 6 cultural centers to be occupied by cultural houses throughout the province’s districts. The ministry also sponsored cultural festivals that include all artistic and literary arts.

Ahmed explains to Al Jazeera Net that the Anbar theater is one of the advanced theaters in the Iraqi provinces, as it participated in most of the local festivals set up by the Department of Cinema and Theater of the Ministry of Culture, as well as the festivals of the Ministry of Education and obtained advanced results in the fields of writing, directing and acting.

He points to the serious theater forum in Anbar, which was established in 2008; Where he represents the province in local and international festivals, noting that in 2019, the Serious Theater Forum held the first Fallujah Theater Festival, with the participation of 9 theater groups from within the province, and the first cultural and artistic demonstration was in Anbar.

Ahmed adds that in the current year 2021, the serious theater forum held the first Anbar Theater Festival, with the participation of 11 theater groups from the center, south and northern governorates, and the forum is preparing to participate in the monodrama festival in Lebanon with the play “Sahel”, written by Saad Hadabi and directed by Akab Hamdi, at the end of December The first is current, and a participation in Tunisia in the same play at the beginning of 2022.

He asserts that the support provided, whether by the local government or by the Ministry of Culture, did not rise to the level of the cultural movement taking place through the self-efforts of artists, writers and intellectuals, pointing out that Anbar possesses many creative energies that reach the world.

Theatrical scenes in Anbar show people’s suffering and hopes (communication sites)

mirror of reality

For his part, theatrical actor Iyad Hussein Al-Jumaili believes that theater is the mirror of reality, the magic through which beauty is created, and is described as the father of arts, citing the words of the German writer Brecht, “Give me bread and theater and I will give you an educated people.”

He adds to Al Jazeera Net that theater is the highest manifestation of civilization. Peoples boast about their many theaters, buildings, and patrons, and Arab peoples, like the countries of the world, gave theater great attention and care, so festivals were held for it and colleges and institutes were opened for it in order to create generations who study theater according to scientific foundations, and it became institutions that sponsor it. It holds annual festivals and prizes.

Al-Jumaili shows that Iraq was among the countries that took an interest in theater, but it retreated after the American invasion and the wars and sieges that people faced, which made culture retreat, and theater, like any cultural aspect, but quickly rose to stand in the field of confrontation.

He adds that after the stability of Anbar and the restoration of life in it, a group of artists from the province set out to set up an open theater festival in public parks, so the theater was transferred with all its requirements to the people to display their suffering and their hopes.

Al-Jumaili expresses his ambition to continue this pioneering experience after they presented their shows in more than 5 cities, where they were well received by people, calling on the authorities to pay attention to art and give it the status it deserves.

About his most prominent artworks, Al-Jumaily says, are “Time of Al-Bashawat” 2010, the play “Bab Nasi” 2012, the series “Titi” 2013, and the play “A Dream of Appointment” 2020.

Al-Kahli: The most prominent obstacles to the Anbari theater are the absence of logistical support for the artists (Al-Jazeera Net)

Obstacles and solutions

The playwright and director Muhammad Rajab al-Kahli talks about the role of theater in educating people and society in general, and points out that the emergence of Iraqi theater dates back to the 18th century, as it began in large cities such as Mosul and Babylon, and the first beginnings of theater started from churches and the situation developed until it became even in public squares. Then it entered into school and other activities due to the importance of theater in educating and educating societies.

In his interview with Al Jazeera Net, he shows ways and means that enhance the role of theater in Iraq and Anbar in particular, by activating the role of the school theater for students, activating the role of artists and involving them in the work of monuments, paintings and buildings in the province in cooperation with the municipalities and activating the artistic and cultural movement, with the establishment of theaters. And halls in all districts and give the artist his true value in building the community culturally and artistically.

Al-Kahli, who is in charge of the theater division of the Iraqi Artists Syndicate, Anbar Branch, reports that his last play was shown at the Open Theater Festival in Anbar, entitled “The Window”, and it tells the reality of the Anbari youth and the harsh conditions he suffers from due to ignorance, violence and devastation that befell the governorate until it affected the people. Most young people think of isolation and a sense of injustice and oppression intellectually and morally.

The theatrical director outlines the most prominent obstacles facing the Anbari theater, which are represented in the lack of logistical and real support from the government for artists, as well as the lack of theater halls and financial grants to facilitate the artists’ affairs.

He points out that the people’s demand for theaters in Anbar is weak due to the customs and traditions that made most people focus on themselves with matters of no value in educating and educating society, according to Al-Kahli.

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