Tokyo: Theatre Performance From Iraq And Tunisia

Kimberly Hughes posted this:

While living in Tokyo for nearly the past decade as a community peace activist, I have had several opportunities to interact with people from Iraq (human rights journalists, pediatricians, and visual artists, to be precise) during their visits to Japan on grassroots-level exchanges organized by local peace groups. Each time, I came away from the experience with marvelous memories and new friendships.

Last week, a fellow member of the Iraq Hope Network alerted members to two short theater acts taking place at Tiny Alice, a cozy theater in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. The only available information was a short blurb including the names of the performers and the titles of their pieces: “Abu Ghraib Prison” from the Mustaheel-Alice theater troupe in Baghdad, Iraq; and “Woman Sindyan” from SINDYANA in Tunisia. Knowing from experience that this could be an opportunity for another interesting encounter, I headed together with one of my most engaged university students to check out the shows.

We also learned—as I had begun to suspect—that the Tunisian woman, Zahira Ben Ammar, was a well-respected, world famous performer.

“As actors, we serve as mirrors of society, expressing what is often left unsaid,” she told the audience. “As a female actor, I have the privilege of being able to express myself in ways that are normally not possible for women in other Arab countries. In addition, my show also tries to give voice to the profound pain that has touched all colonized peoples—whether in Tunisia, Gaza or Iraq. I suspect that some of these themes may also resonate with Japanese people, due for example to your painful history in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

The Iraq Hope Network is a Japan-based network of NGOs, aid workers, journalists, lawyers, university professors and volunteers who together sponsor projects in Iraq focused on humanitarian aid, reconstruction and human rights.

Read more over at Ten Thousand Things, by Kimberly Hughes.

Performance photo: Tsukasa Aoki


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