- Posted October 26, 2010 by
Iraqi street Performance Debut
October 26, 2010. Sulaimania, Iraqi Kurdistan. Local street performers took their act to the street for the first time in the city of Sulaimania, Iraqi Kurdistan. The performance involved two large groups of performers with different sized and colored masks interacting throughout a 45 minute period. The performance could be interpretted in myriad ways, but clearly had themes of multiculturalism, diversity and acceptance at it's heart.
A group of visual and performance artists (two from Kurdistan, one from Spain and one from the U.K.) who received a grant from the British Council performed a series of acting workshops with local university students and laypeople alike. There were approximately 50 performers and near 400 observers at the downtown park where the region's first street theater took place earlier today. The performance group plans to put on puppet shows in area villages over the next few weeks.
--following is an account of the performance--
In the center of one of the park’s soccer-field-sized, rose-lined common greens was a giant group of monstrous, shroud-covered figures. They were wearing enourmous, bright-colored psychodelic masks with huge protruding noses, lashing tongues and fire-red paper mache hair. A few meters to their side was another group, just as ominous, but clearly humanoid, wearing much smaller, muted-colored masks.
An eruption of monstrous roars was met with animal chirps and peeps. Over the next 45 minutes or so, these two groups interacted with each other in a number of ways. A solitary monster crept over to the humans’ camp. The humans giggled and poked it, and the gentle giant retreated with its tail tucked between its legs. A curious human charged the monsters and was similarly surrounded, inspected, and made to feel a fool. It was Where the Wild Things Are meets West Side Story, on acid, in Iraq.
By the end of the performance the two groups seemed to have grown accustomed to each other and they danced around the perimeter of the green. Humanoids skipped unmolested between herds of monsters as the whole lot bellowed glottal guffaws at its climax.
The crowd of onlookers’ melodious cheer fit right in with the animalistic scene preceding it. Masks were torn off, monster cloaks were hurled away and the performers met their family, friends and curious onlookers with bear hugs and kisses.