Spectators of a work in the first theater that opens in Basra, in southern Iraq, after 15 years without this type of culture, on December 28, 2017
For the first time in almost 15 years, a theater opened in Basra, an event that spectators and artists saw as a sign that the cultural life of the Iraqi port city is being reborn.
The work, an operetta, was performed on Thursday night in a room built by a businessman in a shopping center in the city.
Among the public, Mohammed Badran, 23, sat for the first time in his life in a theater in his city.
„Our parents tell us about the multitude of artistic events they have attended, today, cultural life is reborn in Basra,“ he declared jubilantly to AFP, after having paid 5,000 Iraqi dinars for his entrance, about 3.50 euros .
Fathi Judair, president of the city’s artists union, recalled that Basra’s first theater was built in 1945.
In 1976, a group of artists founded the first theater company in the city, which became the most famous in the country after that of Baghdad, said Kazem Kazar, head of theater and film in the province of Basra.
„Thus, Basra was a cultural city, before being an oil city,“ he added.
In 2003, when the US-led invasion that ended the regime of Saddam Hussein took place, the city had „five theaters and several movie theaters“, but with this new war, everything closed, lamented the artist Abdel Mutaleb Aziz who, with 61 years, knew the cultural apogee of Basra.
In 2003, when the US-led invasion that ended the regime of Saddam Hussein took place, the city had „five theaters and several movie theaters“, but with this new war, everything closed, lamented the artist Abdel Mutaleb Aziz
The reconstruction was concentrated at first on infrastructure, especially oil, Basra and the capital, he told AFP.
On the other hand, the multiplication of Islamist parties and armed groups in the city did not help the survival of the theaters and cinemas, he also denounced.
Still today, said Judair, „the federal and local authorities can not even build a theater and it has taken an employer to take care of it.“
The promoter of the project, Ramadan Al Badran, 54, was proud to have purchased „the most modern light and sound equipment“ for this room, which can accommodate „up to 600 people.“
On the stage, a wooden decoration reproduces the patrician houses with oriental windows, exquisitely carved, that made Basra famous.