The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Thursday, November 26, 2020


Syria puppeteer offers Idlib children breathing space
Syrian puppeteer Walid Abu Rashed performs a puppet act for children amid the rubble of damaged buildings in Syria's northwestern city of Saraqib in the Idlib province on September 29, 2019. The 26 year-old's mobile puppet theatre has become a small respite from war for the children of Saraqib, a town in the jihadist-run province of Idlib. Years of fighting and displacement in Idlib province have wrought chaos for children, destroying schools and scattering destitute families across the countryside. Zein Al RIFAI / AFP.

by Yaman Khatib



SARAQIB (AFP).- Walid Abu Rashed walks past bombed-out buildings in war-torn northwest Syria, carrying a large wooden board and a plastic bag filled with puppets while dozens of children trail behind him.

The 26 year-old's mobile puppet theatre has become a small respite from war for the children of Saraqib, a town in the jihadist-run province of Idlib.

After school, they gather amidst the rubble, clapping their hands, as the theatre actor puts on a show from behind his makeshift puppet stand, a flashy yellow wig covering his black hair.

The war-weary children sing along to a tune blasting from a speaker as hand puppets of a lion and a mouse pop up from a square hole carved at the centre of the wooden board.

"How sweet it is to live well and in peace," they chant in unison.

Packing up his kit after the show, Abu Rashed says theatre is a form of resistance.

"Theatre is an integral part of the culture and civilisation of Idlib," he told AFP, as the children around him clamoured for pictures.

"I will fight tyrants through art."

Nearby, 10-year-old Mina Malak said the show had offered her much-needed relief.

"His shows make us laugh," she said. "It helps us forget the bombardment."

'Magic Caravan'
Years of fighting and displacement in Idlib province have wrought chaos for children, destroying schools and scattering destitute families across the countryside.

Hundreds of people have been displaced since April alone, when the government and its Russian backer upped their deadly bombardment of the jihadist-dominated enclave.

According to Save The Children, the bombing since late April has damaged or otherwise impacted around 90 educational facilities, while dozens more are being used as shelters for those displaced by the violence.

A ceasefire announced by Moscow on August 31 has reduced air strikes, but sporadic shelling and flare-ups persist.

Before the Syrian conflict started in 2011, Abu Rashed wanted to attend the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts in Damascus -- the country's most prominent theatre school.

"I won the award for best theatre actor in Idlib in 2011 and the horizons of my future in the arts started to take shape," he said, lighting a cigarette.

"But I chose to stand with the revolution and join the protesters, because theatre can deliver a message under oppressive rule."

Instead of attending university, he joined a troupe of theatre actors by the name of the Magic Caravan.

They performed plays for out-of-school children living in displacement camps near the border with Turkey, before disbanding in 2014 after their founder was killed by a regime barrel bomb that fell near Abu Rashed's home.

'Hold back tears'
A few months later, Abu Rashed organised his first solo puppet show in a camp for the displaced in the countryside of neighbouring Latakia province.

"I couldn't hold back my tears when I heard the long applause after the show ended," he said.

"At that moment, I decided to continue performing in every spot in Syria I could reach."

He has since become a mainstay in Saraqib, where frequent power cuts have left children with few sources of entertainment.

He recalled a recent exchange with a young member of his audience, who asked him why his toys at home didn't speak the same way Abu Rashed's puppets do.

"He insisted that his toys participate in the next show so they can learn how to speak and dance," Abu Rashed said.

While he holds most of his shows outside, the puppet master has recently turned the basement of his home into an alternative performance space for when the bombing spikes.

Gathering outdoors during heavy air strikes, he said, is akin to suicide.

But that does not deter him.

"I promise you these shows will not stop," he said.


© Agence France-Presse










Today's News

November 12, 2019

Asheville Art Museum re-opens after major three-year expansion project

The National Gallery launches public appeal to save Orazio Gentileschi's The Finding of Moses for future generations

Jitters before New York's art 'gigaweek'

Centuries old warships linked to 'Vasa' found in Sweden

Louvre Abu Dhabi marks two years, without da Vinci

Marsden Hartley's Birch Grove, autumn leads Bonhams American Art sale in New York

Sotheby's to offer property from Spetchley Park, one of Britain's great Regency houses

Lyon & Turnbull's MODERN MADE auction will turn the spotlight on the West Cornwall fishing town

Works by Margaret MacDonald, Josef Hoffmann and Alphonse Mucha come under the hammer at Dorotheum

Meadows Museum announces a new collaboration with Fundación ARCO

A sculpture for Brooklyn's new golden age?

Morphy's gallery resonates with sounds of antique coin-op and gambling machines in run-up to November auction

Stephen Dixon, author of experimental novels and stories, dies at 83

Thai convent weaves 'beautiful' robes for Pope Francis visit

Major survey of Barry Le Va's early work on view at Dia:Beacon

Phillips names Lori Spector as Regional Director for Switzerland

Christie's to offer the David Little Silver Collection of Early English Silver

Keith Flint Collection surpasses expectations

Syria puppeteer offers Idlib children breathing space

Vivaldi reworked to 'make climate change audible'

Teresa Iarocci Mavica appointed commissioner of the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

J. Garrett Auctioneers' November 2nd-4th auction grosses over $2 million

Diana Greenwald named new Assistant Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum





Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful