Tuesday, October 6, 2009

AFTERMATH at New York Theatre Workshop

Now playing at New York Theatre Workshop is the docu-drama Aftermath, which tells the story of Iraqi refugees who have relocated to Jordan after they experience the American occupation in their homeland. With each character taking turns to tell their story, the audience is is taken through a journey to which we try to comprehend what we are hearing.

It's one thing to hear media reports on the progress of the war in Iraq, which began in 2003 but to then hear the actual stories of real individuals, is another thing. Playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, traveled to Jordan and interviewed over 30 individuals. These interviews all seemed to have a similar story. They all love their country and are proud to be an Iraqi but with the tragedies that surrounded them, in one way or another, they were forced to leave, and in some cases flee, to take refuge outside Iraq.

A dermatologist, an imam, a pharmacist, a painter, a theatre director, a mother and her newborn, and a wife and husband tell their individual stories about how the American occupation changed their lives. With the translator, Shahid, some of these stories are so heartbreaking and seemingly unreal, it's hard not to want to tune out and look away. But you can't. With minimal staging and the set only occupied by six chairs and several benches, these actors are speaking directly to the audience. We are the ones they want to hear their stories.

With the outstanding actors speaking directly to us, it was no wonder that at several moments throughout the play, not a sound could be heard from the audience. Every word spoken throughout this play was taken in by the ears of the audience who leaned forward in their seats as if that could help try to comprehend these traumatic stories.

Towards the end, Fadilah, the painter and wife of the theatre director says, "Truth is always threatened." What New York Theatre Workshop and the playwrights presented with Aftermath, is a tale unwarrantably true. At the post performance discussion, a public program presented by NYTW, patrons stayed to discuss their feelings on what they just saw. Several wanted to know how they can do more to help the refugees. Moderator Mark Crispin Miller, suggested donating to the IRC and getting as many people as possible to see this play. To be aware, word of mouth. I once again, was one of the youngest people in the audience and I hope my generation isn't lost to this. Awareness of the global community is poignant when striving for what is best for each other. So with this, I urge anyone reading this, you, you and you, to head down to New York Theatre Workshop, to see this play. If you're a student and price is a factor, be aware that for $20 you can get a ticket. Aftermath plays until October 18th.

For more information go to NYTW's website at http://www.nytw.org
To read another review go to http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/theater/reviews/16after.html?scp=2&sq=aftermath&st=cse

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