“I used to cringe thinking about Syria. Now I cringe because of Ashraf,” said the actor, who is in search of her refugee activist lover Ashraf, in the play Oh My Sweet Land. How war and conflict can dilate any memory, even the ones cherished with love, into nothing but bitter nostalgia - is reflected in the play, staged by Goethe-Institut, in association with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Corinne Jaber, a French actor of German and Syrian descent, portrayed the wretched situation of the Syrian lands because of the ongoing war in a one-hour act, on Monday evening in the Experimental Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. In the play, she cooked Kubah (a traditional Syrian dish) in her apartment in Paris as she narrated the stories of people she encountered in Syria, while looking for Ashraf.
She compared the process of preparing Kubah – the blending of raw flesh, the sound of boiling oil, to destroying human bodies in bombings of the war. The scene of raw flesh kept inside the fridge with the sounds of sizzling oil, as it boils, cannot help but get under the skins of anyone experiencing the play.
The actor's restless demeanour throughout the play was contagious. Her trying to make the perfect Kubah, seemed like an obsession and only way of coping with the anguished memories.
Oh My Sweet Land, directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi, showed how the viciousness of war spreads beyond borders and affects people all over the world. Jaber, with her stories, took the audience from Paris to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.