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Renowned Kuwaiti playwright premiers play at Tunisian festival

Play opens doors for collaboration with other Arab artists

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti director and playwright Sulayman Al-Bassam presented Tuesday his new play “silence”, which talks about the Beirut port explosion. The script relies on a mix of music and sounds to relay the extent of the catastrophe to the audience. The show was part of a workshop held by Bassam in Tunisia at the Tunisia World Theater festival, which kicked off Monday and will go on until April 4.

“The play opens new doors for using Arabic combinations to create a contemporary theatrical language,” Bassam told KUNA. A well-known Arab modern theater director and playwright, Bassam’s work explores themes of identity, war and individual sovereignty. According to a biography published on his website, he often sets his work against the backdrop of civilizational overlap and tension between the Arab-Islamic world and the West.

Bassam often collaborates with multinational creative teams and his newest play is not an exception. “Silence” was a fruit of the cooperation between artists in the Tunisian theater scene and Bassam’s independent Kuwaiti theater group “SABAB theatre”.

“The cooperation creates a window of opportunity for more collaboration in the Arab theater scene. It also strengthens partnerships in the field, especially that playwrights and artists who work in theater across the Arab world are somewhat isolated.,” he said.

Bassam described the script of his new play as “poetic and political”, given that it addresses the August 2022 Beirut port explosion. The massive blast ripped through Lebanon’s capital, killing 218 people, injuring 7,000 and leaving 300,000 displaced.

Considered one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions to have been recorded, the Beirut explosion damaged 77,000 apartments and caused an estimated $3.8 to 4.6 billion in material damage.

In his play, Bassam tries to approach various forms of resistance in the face of unprecedented brutality. He borrows the personality of the thinker, the artist and the regular Joe who chooses absolute silence as a sovereign form of expression.

The team behind “silence” is made up of a diverse group of artists, including the Syrian-French actress Hala Omran, members of “Team Dragon”, musicians Ali Hout and Abdel-Ridha Kobeissi from Lebanon and Tunisian production director Oussama Jamai. – KUNA

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