Syrian Drama Takes on Crisis

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A Displaced Syrian boy gets a haircut at a makeshift refugee camp along the Turkish border in the village of Atme in the northwestern province of Idlib, on 31 January 2012. (Photo: AFP - Aamir Qureshi)

By: Wissam Kanaan

Published Thursday, January 31, 2013

The official Syrian Television and Radio General Production Company has tried before to address the turmoil engulfing the country, even in the early days of the uprising.

A directive came from the higher-ups requesting that the agency produce work related to the crisis, which led to the hurried production of “Fouq al-Saqaf” (Over the Roof - 2011), a sketch comedy show that looks at Syrians’ lives in the early days of the uprising.

In 2012, the production company produced some successful television drama series that maintained their distance from the intensifying upheaval. It was not until media personality Diana Jabbour took the helm of the agency that we started to see more serious dramatic works that examined Syria’s new reality.

The surprise came after a collaboration between the national production company and director Najdat Anzour, who remained largely absent from television drama production last year.

Despite his poor relationship with Jabbour, Anzour was offered the production of a new drama series called “Under the Nation’s Sky,” which consists of ten stories, each made up of three episodes, directly addressing the consequences of the Syrian crisis.

One episodic trio, titled “al-Hamidiya,” revolves around a couple whose relationship is strained by displacement. The story probes the lives of those who did not directly engage in the fighting, but paid a heavy price, whether as a result of the dire economic situation or the kidnappings and bombings. The concerns of Syria’s minorities are also broached in the series, reflecting their fears of an uncertain future.

Anzour accomplishes all of this by indirectly avoiding the red lines drawn by government censors.

Nevertheless, it appears that a serious dramatic work addressing the current crisis will see the light of day...and with the full consent of the authorities. But the question remains: how balanced will it be?

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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