London play on Iraq aims to get behind the headlines

Mon Jul 2, 2012 11:29am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A new play being staged at an experimental theatre in east London aims to get behind the headlines and tell the world what it has really been like living in Iraq before and since the 2003 invasion.

Conceived by Dina Mousawi, the hour-long piece is based on her experiences as a girl being brought up in Baghdad who later moved to England at the age of eight.

As an adult the actress became frustrated with how Iraq was portrayed in the media in the wake of the war, and particularly how those accounts, both fact and fiction in the form of movies, were almost always seen through the eyes of men.

She set off for Baghdad in 2011 to interview ordinary women about their lives, and that testimony, combined with her own childhood memories, make for a nuanced portrayal of Iraq viewed both from the inside and out.

"I would get frustrated about the media's representation of the Iraq war," the 33-year-old told Reuters after rehearsals late last week.

"Every time I watched a film it was always the men's stories, it was always the soldiers or the terrorists - 'Green Zone', 'The Hurt Locker', all these programs were about men and I was like, 'what about the women?'"

The resulting play weaves love stories, jokes, humor and childish innocence into the more familiar images of violence, fear and death that fill news bulletins from Iraq today.

It also reminds viewers that Saddam Hussein, who was executed after being ousted by the U.S.-led invasion, was once a father figure and hero to many Iraqis.   Continued...