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New Play: Fallujah Freed From Fallacy

New Play: Fallujah Freed From Fallacy


By Mamoon Alabbasi - LONDON

Two years after the US-led military besieged and destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a British play appears to reveal to the public some of the shocking details of that military operation, highlighting what has been missed by mainstream media.

The play, 'Fallujah,' is inspired by and based on extensive research conducted by triple Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Scilla Elworthy on the 2004 US military assault on the Iraqi city.

Breaking away from common theatre seating style, the play is meant to be watched by a standing and walking audience, where the actors would appear in various places among the audience as they occasionally address them face to face within close distance.

The aim of this unorthodox type of set, explains the play's writer and director Jonathan Holmes, is to make the audience more actively involved in the show.

Regarding the political aim of the play, Holmes asserted that there is no specific political perspective endorsed in 'Fallujah'.

"There is no right-wing/left-wing distinction here. The play is ethical, not political," said Holmes. "The aim of the play," he continued, "is to shake people out of their apathy."

When asked about the timing of the play's release, Holmes stressed that it was not deliberate that the play appeared during time of a strong rising anti-war sentiment in the UK, but it was a question of funding.

"We simply did not have the funding to do it earlier," said Holmes.

From various conflicting perspectives, the people of Fallujah have been portrayed as heroes, villains or victims but the play's director maintains that his depiction does not follow such superficial categorisation.

The Fallujans are simply "people who were put in an extremely difficult situation and they had to do deal with it," said Holmes, adding that "they had dealt with it very honourably."

The director, however, does not excuse the inhuman actions of the US soldiers and stresses that "responsibility lies absolutely with the American military."
On the exclusiveness of the assault on Fallujah, Holmes noted that no other city had undergone such torment in modern history, where no one was spared from brutality.

"The situation in Fallujah is an extreme version of what is happening in Iraq now, but it was unique, particularly in the level of unjustifiable atrocities." said Holmes.

Holmes added that although many factors and a series of mistakes were combined to produce the outcome that took place in Fallujah, "the potential of something going badly wrong" was always present due to the nature of US policies in Iraq.

Although drama sometimes exaggerates reality for artistic purposes, the play Fallujah had to be toned down for the theatre, as reality was too ugly to handle on stage.

"The opposite is true," replied Holmes, when asked if there was a need to dramatise any scene from reality.

Coinciding with the play's production, Holmes released a publication, also entitled 'Fallujuah', to provide a print documentation of the play's projections.

The book serves as a source for a more sober - but still shocking - afterthought, once the magical effect of the drama wears out; a reminder that the play was rooted in facts.

The cast exhibited extraordinary talents as individual actors assumed the roles of different characters in a very convincing manner.

There were instances where one would be lead into thinking that they were the real characters that appear on the news and not mere actors.

This could be explained by the fact that, in addition to their obvious acting talents, the cast does very much believe in the work they are doing.

When considering the selection of the cast, explained the play's assistant director Alice Bray, much emphasis has been placed on the actors' interest and feelings regarding the issue.

The background music and sound effects added to the war-like feeling during the play, as music director Peter Readman startled few members of the audience with a burst of unexpected rounds of fire, projecting the message that reality in Fallujah was incomparably more freighting.

After a number of scenes that depicted the brutality of US military action in the city, which included reports of American snipers shooting Iraqi children waving white flags, the play concludes with a speech given by an actress playing the role of Condoleeza Rice.

She says: "In many ways, it's a wonderful White House to be in because there are a lot of people who are of faith, starting with the President... Among American leadership, there are an awful lot of people who travel in faith... God bless America."

[For more details on the play, visit: www.fallujah.co.uk]

*************

Mamoon Alabbasi is an editor for Middle-East-Online.com, and can be reached at: alabbasi @ journalist.com

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