News / Arts & Entertainment

Playwright Explores Lebanon's Sectarian Divide

Playwright Explores Lebanon's Sectarian Dividei
X
July 17, 2013 5:17 PM
A country with 18 religious sects and a history of sectarian conflict, Lebanon often seems on the brink of violence. Since the uprising in Syria began more than two years ago, that tension has escalated, especially between Sunni and Shia. Lebanese playwright and director Yehia Jaber is trying to defuse the tension through theater. In a one-man play, he highlights the history of Tarik al Jadidah, a low income and predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Beirut that often is seen as a barometer of Sunni sentiment. Paige Kollock reports for VOA from Beirut that the play is one way of the many ways Lebanese are dealing with the tension in the country through art.
Paige Kollock
A country with 18 religious sects and a history of sectarian conflict, Lebanon often seems on the brink of violence. Since the uprising in Syria began more than two years ago, that tension has escalated, especially between Sunni and Shia.

Lebanese playwright and director Yehia Jaber is trying to defuse the tension through theater. In a one-man play, he highlights the history of Tarik al Jadidah, a low-income and predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Beirut that often is seen as a barometer of Sunni sentiment.

The play, Beirut Tarik al jadadih, is one of the many ways Lebanese are dealing with the tension in the country through art.

Actor Ziad Itani is portraying the women in Tarik al Jadidah and the scrutiny they face when it comes to marriage. Societal norms dictate that women must choose the right man, from the right family, and of course, the right sect.

In a one-man play with 14 different characters, the production has brought sectarian slogans and stereotypes from the street to the stage. With stark portrayals of real-life characters, it reveals and subtly mocks the demonization that exists between Lebanon’s sects.

Jaber said the play is an account of the Sunni-Shia conflicts that Lebanon and the Arab world are experiencing.

“Based on my experience as a fighter and survivor of the Lebanese civil war, all wars start as tragic and end comedic," he said. "The outlandish differences between people depicted in the play are an exaggeration of the religious fanaticism we are experiencing. Laughter, for me, is an emergency exit. Laughter can easily get you out of a calamity.”

By recounting the political and social history of the largest Sunni neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, Jaber aims to show how closely connected Lebanese are to one another.

For Itani, a journalist and first-time actor, the play hits close to home. He grew up near Tarik al Jadidah, and has reported on and observed its residents. He said that in the current political climate, satire is proving more effective than political dialogue.

“Over the last three years, the Arab World has been through instability that has provoked changes in the mindsets of every Lebanese and Arab citizen," he said. "The popularity of comedy has proven it has the power to change what is happening in the streets much more than political speeches and protests."

Jaber said all of the characters are based on real-life personalities and that only the names were altered. His goal is to change the way people think by showing them their common history.

You May Like

British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign Jihadists More

Audio Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."