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“An important milestone in Arab political theatre
Majalat Al-Funoon, Kuwait

Melting the Ice

Synopsis
The first fully formulated Arab artistic response to the American-led liberation/occupation of Iraq. A powerful affirmation of theatre’s power to transcend political barriers and affront fascistic ideologies of various ethnic groups, the piece re-uttered the contradictions and confusions of political stances surrounding the Iraq invasion. In doing so, it aimed to create a mental laboratory for the catharsis of violent political inclinations.

Bringing together a cast of leading Iraqi, Kuwaiti, British and American actors for the first time, the piece was performed in Arabic and English.

The text combined scenes from Heiner Mueller’s Slaughter with a newly commissioned English script, The Trough, by leading young British dramatist, Torben Betts.

Credits
Conceived and Directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam
Lighting Design: Klaus Gruenberg
Live Music: Kowkab Hamza
Performers: Nigel Barrett, Monadhil Daood, Kanaan Hamad, Tareq Hashim, Qarie Marshall. Jassim Al-Nabhan, Lisa Reeves, Kirsten Hawson, Iona Linthwaite, Simon Keen, Bashar Abdullah , Kawakeb Al-Omairi , Basima Hamada , Deema Al-Ansari , Bader Abdal , Salah Abo Al-Banat , Ali Al-Mathan , Amal Abbas , Ebrahim Al-Sheikhli , Bushra, Naser Karmani.

Produced by the Kuwait-Iraq Friendship Society – established by Kuwaiti intellectuals during the conflict and dedicated to rebuilding the rich cultural and artistic links between the two neighbouring countries.

Production History
Developed against all odds in Kuwait during the invasion of Iraq, the piece opened on 2 June 2003 and toured to the Cairo International Festival of Theatre later the same year. On the opening night in Kuwait, leading Kuwaiti actor Kanaan Hamad died tragically on stage. Kanaan gave his life to the art he loved and became a martyr for the message of tolerance carried by the play. The piece attracted packed houses and generated powerful and diametrically opposed responses from audiences and critics alike. The Egyptian poet and folk idol, Ahmad Fouad Najim led the audience in a standing ovation whilst others attached political motivations to the work that were a reflection of the Arab world’s political confusion at the time.