Smoking kills but so does war
In the play „My Sister Syria“ Rachel, a human-rights activist from London, wants to save her friend Razan, a Syrian lawyer, who gets hijacked by Islamists in Syria during Razan and Rachel’s Skype call. A secret service officer from the MI6 approaches Rachel and asks her to go to Syria to bring a female general from the free Syrian Army to Paris, where she would unify the opposition groups that are supported by the Western states. Rachel agrees, albeit grudgingly when the officer tells her that this might save her friend Razan. In Syria Rachel does not only experience the horror of war in the form of bombing, but surprisingly also experiences hope, love and the contentment of Syrians who stand up against the terrorists and try to eke out a living under the harsh conditions that they were thrown into.
Their attitude towards life is different to Rachel’s, because they experience death as no other. Nonetheless, Rachel’s trip becomes increasingly dangerous as she must approach areas controlled by ISIS to meet the general. She is accompanied by a “bodyguard” called Safid. He is torn between calmness and frustration because he feels helpless and sees no solution to solve the riddle of his beloved Syria. Yet Safid maintains his sense of humor, e.g. as he smokes a lot he states: “Smoking kills, but so does war”. Rachel and Safid find the general, who to the surprise of the MI6 does not want to escape to Europe. Even more shattered, she finds out that Razan was killed and the MI6 has solely utilized Rachel for its own sake. The general wants Rachel to save her son Hassan and bring him out to Europe. As the MI5 has no interest in helping Hassan, Rachel is forced to take him to Europe with the help of illegal traffickers. On his way, Hassan must bear the dangerous route to Germany via the Mediterranean. Then, he is put in the back of transporter but ends up arriving safely in Europe. At the end, Hassan refuses to learn any German or immerse in German culture and wants to maintain speaking Arabic as it is the only thing that reminds him of his home, Syria.
“My Sister Syria”, performed by excellent actors from the American Drama Group, is an outstanding theatre performance. It addresses the harsh reality of the Syrian civil war and the desertion of the Syrians by the West. It further depicts children that are used as propaganda by ISIS, resulting in children growing up with shifted values that favour war. The childhood of those powerless children is taken away by extremists. Besides the harsh and heartbreaking situation in Syria, it is depicted how the civilians stand up against dictatorship and extremism and try to enjoy their lives as well as possible by organizing underground parties and enjoying their culture. The love to their home and roots helps them to keep on believing. The use of different types of music, prevailingly Syrian helps the audience to immerge in the Syrian culture.
The authors included a lot of topics that are being controversially discussed in modern politics, for example, the refugee crisis. The drama threw a lot of moral questions at us and helped us understand the motives of refugees and their struggles of integration. The performance was so marvelous and authentic that it pulled at our heartstrings.
By Clara Reinhardt and Lilli Schuckert (English LK Mr. Wehrsig Q3)