New plays from Syria and Lebanon brought to the London stage by International Playwrights: A Genesis Foundation Project with support from the British Council
Over the last two years, the Royal Court, in partnership with the British Council, has delivered a series of New Writing workshops in Beirut led by playwrights David Greig, Sam Holcroft with Royal Court International Director Elyse Dodgson. Twelve playwrights from Lebanon and Syria participated in the programme which was marked by a sharing of the work in Beirut in front of a highly enthusiastic public audience in May 2015.
A year later in 2016, the writers of three of the most urgent plays were invited to London to present staged readings directed by Royal Court associates Richard Twyman (International) and Lucy Morrison in London as part of Told from the Inside a season of new plays from Syria and Lebanon at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court:
Goats by Liwaa Yazji (Syria), translated by Yasmine Seale and directed by Richard Twyman which (presented on 7 & 8 March) is set in a small government held town in Syria. Coffins pile up as grieving families struggle to cope with the impact of civil war. The local mayor decides to compensate the families with a goat for each son martyred. As the town slowly fills with goats, the community tries to hold on to its sanity.
Ghalia’s Miles by Maya Zbib (Zoukak Theatre Company, Lebanon), translated by Katharine Halls and directed by Lucy Morrison (presented on 9 & 10 March). In the play, Ghalia tries to escape from her violent family and an arranged marriage, by fleeing to Beirut in the hope of reaching Europe. On the way she sacrifices almost everything she has to make the crossing. A journey through a Middle East in turmoil told by a chorus of women.
The Final Return by Ghiath Mhithawi (Syria), translated by Victoria Lupton and Stefan Tarnowski, and directed by Richard Twyman (presented on 11 & 12 March). Houssam, a soldier, returns home from the frontline. Broken by the conflict, he seeks approval from his family to desert the Syrian army. He soon learns their belief in him as a “hero” is the only thing keeping them together.
The New Writing for Playwrights project was conceived to allow Arab playwrights to develop their playwriting skills and create new work which reflected contemporary life within their society and region.