Satire Finds a Stage in Baghdad

Iraq's waning community of actors is free of censorhip, but under siege by extremists
By Sarah Seltzer,  Newser User
Posted May 21, 2007 3:41 PM CDT
Fikret Salim, 24, plays a bully in "The Intensive Care Unit," a one-act play at Baghdad's National Theater that satirizes the country's ruined state.   (Washington Post)

(Newser) – At least someone is laughing: At Iraq's National Theater a one-act play called "The Intensive Care Unit" satirizes the country's bombed-out chaos. The prevailing mood, the Washington Post reports, is jovial and non-sectarian; performances are all matinees because no one dares venture out at night.

The US invasion liberated Iraqi theater of Saddam Hussein-stye censorship, but the alternative hasn't been an improvement for the theater community. "Yes, now we perform what we want. But this freedom is soaked in blood," one Iraqi director tells the Post. Many have been targeted and killed by religious extremists. Many others have  fled the country. Those who are lucky enough to perform are unpaid. "If we wanted money," one quips, "we would go looting."