‘Could You Please Look Into the Camera?’ Arrives in the US

This weekend marks the North American premiere of Mohammad Al Attar’s Could You Please Look Into the Camera? in an English translation by Lisa Wedeen:

cameraThe play, which has previously shown in Beirut, Glasgow, and Seoul, with a few scenes staged in New York City in 2013, opened yesterday in NYC. It runs through May 31 at Theaterlab.

Written in 2011, the play is based on interviews of young Syrians detained by the Assad regime. It examines the relationships that develop between a filmmaker, Noura, and three young protesters. A 2012 Glasgow production got a strong review and four stars from The Scotsmanand the New York Times reported that a 2012 Beirut production, staged for one night only, “electrified” the audience.

This was not Al Attar’s fist internationally recognized play. His earlier Withdrawal, included in the 2010 anthology Plays from the Arab World, was adapted for performances in London, New York, New Delhi, Berlin, Tunisia, and Beirut. His Online premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre.

In March of this year, Al Attar’s 2013 play, A Chance Encounter, was staged in Portland. In 2014, Al Attar adapted Antigone as part of a project giving Syrian refugees in Beirut an opportunity to engage in the dramatic arts.

Most recently, Al Attar appeared at a festival at the Shatila refugee camp, speaking on a panel about “Funding Culture in Time of Distress.”

Related events at TheatreLab:

May 29: “panel on Performing History: the aesthetics and ethics of staging testimony and archival material. With Aktina Stathaki, Jessica Litwak, David Diamond, Sarah Sakaan and Jessica Brater. Moderated by Saviana Stanescu.”

May 31: “Following the performance we will read an excerpt from Mohammad Al Attar’s latest work Antigone of Syria, created with Syrian women refugees in Beirut.  Translated and directed by Tracy Cameron Francis. A discussion will follow and we will skype in the playwright from Beirut.”

More on tickets and showtimes:

At the TheatreLabNYC website.

If you have the proper permissions:

You can read Wedeen’s translation of Al Attar’s play online.

A Q&A with The Economist:

About Could You Please Look Into the Camera?

Or, if you’re in the Netherlands: 

The exhibition “Syrian Art in Diaspora” opens today, showcasing paintings, cartoons, photographs, poems, poem-films, and architectural designs, incuding work by Syrian poet Ghayath al-Madhoun. More here.