The Arab Dream theatre troupe was established in October 2013 by the cultural office of the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth. The troupe started with eight amateur members with a talent for theatre, and they are being trained by the head of the cultural office, a theatre director himself.
The troupe’s work attempts to shed light on “challenges facing the revolutionary movement in a critical manner. The plays combine subtle sarcasm with silent performances that rely not on action but rather on delivering the message unaltered,” as recounted by a group member.
The troupe has insisted on using live street theatre in public place because they believe that those that are posted online have failed to reach their intended audience inside Syria. To that end, they have taken it upon themselves to deliver their art to the most crowded streets and public places in liberated areas, so as their message can reach the largest number of people. They have also decided to use silent plays as a more poignant suggestive form than dialogue and plot-based plays. The silent scenes also attract a larger number of spectators and deliver their message in the shortest amount of time.
The troupe has already presented two plays. The first one discussed the ongoing struggle between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its effects on civilians. The second play focused on the kidnapping and murdering of journalist by the regime and some groups of the FSA and radical Islamist groups. ISIS attempted to ban the play on the basis that the music accompanying the show was religiously forbidden, but the troupe resisted and insisted that their show must go on.
The troupe’s first public event was likened by group members to their first demonstrations, out of fear from ISIS this time. But the support and platitude they received from the gathering audience was far beyond anything they expected. This pushed the troupe to continue with their work.
This first confrontation has pushed the team to carefully select the public places for their events. According to an organizer, “we select the place based on its relevance to the subject topic of the play, but also based on how crowded it is. We also contact friends in the FSA and the coordination committees active in the town to be ready for any emergency.”
Yet the group’s effort face many hurdles, foremost of which is the distrust afforded to them by the powerful militias. Securing funds is also an issue for the group. So far they’ve been making do with the simple resources at their disposal, but they believe that with more funding their message could reach even more people.
Nevertheless, the team is always working on something new. And they believe their critical eye is especially needed at a time when “militias are busy dividing booty, and the opposition busy quarreling amongst themselves, while the regime continues to rain bombs and hunger on civilians.”