‘While I was waiting’ by acclaimed Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar and director Omar Abusaada tells the story of a young man who ends up in a coma in hospital after being beaten up at a checkpoint in Damascus. Friends and family gathered around him are forced to confront painful realities from the present and the past.
After premiering in Brussels in May, the company has performed across Europe, from Avignon to Zurich. It was recently on at the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens as part of a Europe-wide tour.
“This story is a metaphor to speak about Syria today, about our current conditions today, about how complicated the conditions are. Because coma, as everybody knows, refers to this grey zone between life and death, between giving up, or surrendering, or fighting for survival. I think this is to a larger extent the story of Syria today,” explains Mohammad Al Attar.
According to Al Attar, theatre is an act of resistance.
“One of the main reasons why I’m still making theatre is also because theatre is our tool of resistance. And here I am speaking about resisting despair, resisting depression. Because, today to be a Syrian who still believes in a Syria with a future, it is very hard to overcome depression and despair, when you look at reality. Especially, when you look that there is unfortunately no clear end to this agony,” he says.
Though he still lives in Damascus, director Omar Abusaada says he can no longer perform there: “I cannot really work there since my work has this political interest. I cannot really work in a free way. Even everyday life is really hard, in terms of electricity, heating, transportation,” he says.
After Athens, ‘While I was waiting’ is heading to the French cities of Marseille and Lille.