by Sarah Al Zubaidi from Karbala
Sarah Al Zubaidi was born in 1997 in Karbala. She has a BSC in Nursing from the University of Karbala. She has been involved in many activities inside Iraq and abroad. She attended a training course in Lebanon at the American University on civic activism and media. Her project is entitled The Goal. The aim is to form a group of theatre lovers and call it, appropriately, the ‘Theatre Admirers’.
The project is an initiative to promote theatre life in Karbala, a city that has fallen under the radar in terms of art production. It aims to motivate youth, and people in general, to become more involved in theatrical work and art. To this end, Sarah and her friend Hussein Ala Majid wish to rally people with a common love of theatre and who desire to express themselves through it.
They asked several directors to train the participants, especially those who have worked in theatre in the past and are now involved in other work. Sarah runs the project, along with several other writers who are new to the field and are eager to realise new ideas. In December 2018, they began to welcome participants by advertising online. More than 150 applications were received, among them 30 female participants.
Among these applicants, 50 people were chosen. They are still in the process of rehearsing and training. Also, from the 30 female applicants, around 11 of them are actively continuing with the group. This number is increasing.
Finding adequate venues for training and rehearsals is still an issue; where they train now is not somewhere that was originally intended for theatre rehearsal. Venues are thus subject to frequent change.
The ideas behind the projectThe city of Karbala is conservative; it still retains its traditional norms and religious values. This has pushed art, specifically theatre, to the margins.
Sarah says that without the support of her family, she would not be able to continue with this work because she often has to be out in public spaces for her job, and women face many barriers going out in this city. This is why theatre performances will motivate people to open up to art, thus giving permission to their female relatives to attend and participate.
Hussein Ala, Sarah’s colleague, says, ‘When community activists try to get police permission to carry out an activity, people often create problems if they know there will be female participants.” Sarah believes that the solutions to such problems lie in opening people’s eyes to art and exposing them to theatre. New awareness and new ways of thinking are created through theatre, and it leaves it’s impact on the conservative mentality of the city.