Town Theatre Ptuj and Mini Theatre Ljubljana (Slovenia) 

MAHMUD

Festival Synenergy, Novi Sad/ Serbia, 22th of November 2019, 19:00 (duration 50′)

DIRECTOR: Peter SRPČIČ
TEXT: Peter SELIGMANN, Elsebeth NIELSEN, Bo LARSEN
TEXT ADAPTATION: Peter SRPČIČ, Simon ŠERBINEK, Iuna ORNIK
COSTUME DESIGNER: Stanka VAUDA BENČEVIČ
VIDEO PROJECTION AND SCENOGRAPHY: Mito GEGIČ
MUSIC: Mahmud Al Khatib, Marko Korošec, Andrej Hrvatin
LECTOR: Simon ŠERBINEK
MUSICIAN, TRANSLATION INTO ARABIC LANGUAGE,
LECTOR OF ARABIC TEXT: Mahmud AL KHATIB
A COWORKER FOR QUESTIONS
CONCERNED WITH
ARABIAN CULTURE: Dr. Maja LAMBERGER KHATIB

CAST:
Iuna ORNIK
Simon ŠERBINEK

ABOUT THE PLAY

This is not a story about faith, this is not a story aboutpolitics, it is a story about a boy named Mahmud andhow he came into our midst with his parents …In this play a man and a woman step in front of the class,to tell the children about their son Mahmud, and toexplain why he is different, and how they could accepthim as he is, with his culture and tradition.

Their story tellsus about hard and inhuman conditions they have to dealwith in their country, and why they have to leave. Theenvironment they find themselves in, is not their own;in the new environment people have a different lifestyle.Reza and Miriam fled from Iran, because they did notwant that their 11 year old son Mahmud goes into thearmy.

They make false papers and when they wanted toescape, Reza is sent to prison. Only Miriam and Mahmudescape and in the mean time, they arrange everythingfor Reza to flee from prison. Reza escapes with the helpof corrupt prison guards, and soon he finds himself in themiddle of the mine field …The play Mahmud shows us the human face of refugees,people that seek better life and hope for better future inour midst.

In their search they come to us and it is veryimportant to understand that they are humans as well,that they have a face and that despite their differentcultural background, they still carry hope for betterfuture and freedom in their hearts. Everyday we see thehorrors and violence on news reports. This turns thehuman stories into numbers, faceless facts. But behindthese stories there are faces, suffering eyes full of tearsand hope.

Reza, Mariam and Mahmud are those thatwill present us their reality; through their story we aregoing to try to understand what they are going through.Mahmud can be any child from this infinite group ofchildren that suffers violence and pain.This is not a story about faith, this is not a story aboutpolitics, it is a story about people.

FOREIGNERS IN SLOVENIA Once upon a time one of the girls from a Scottish familyanswered on a question who areforeigners :”But foreigners do not exist, only peoplethat I have not met yet, exist.” Integration, assimilation,acculturation, segregation, banishment … Integration,assimilation, acculturation, segregation. Banishment.

People have been migrating from the old times. Migrations can be liable to political occurrences, buthumans have always been a homo migrans.

Peopledecide to migrate because of different circumstances:for love, education, natural catastrophes, wars, theyare looking for better living conditions, they can bevictims of persecution, because of their faith, nationality,political views or because they are part of different socialgroups. There are a lot of reasons that often intertwinewith themselves. To categorise easily bureaucrats havedeveloped different categorisations that people get ina country they are immigrating into.

Maybe they will becategorised as Slovene in the course of years, or they willask for asylum, or they will become refugees and get thestatus of foreigner with firm residence in Slovenia. If theywill decide to apply for asylum in Slovenia, there is 98 %chance that they will be moved out of Slovenia.Category of foreigner is very differently accepted inSlovenia and is regulated by different laws. In the sixtiesand seventies, in times of economical development,migrants were well accepted in western societies,whereas today, the situation is changing and iscompletely different.

Only decades ago Slovenia openedfrontiers to young educated people with universitydegree, that came from Arab and African countries,who were offered some scholarships. When Sloveniabecame independent country and by implementingnew imigration politics that were similar to EU strategies,the feeling of acceptance into a society changed. In thepast, immigrants were in the category of “welcome

FOREIGNERS IN SLOVENIA

Once upon a time one of the girls from a Scottish familyanswered on a question who areforeigners: ”But foreigners do not exist, only peoplethat I have not met yet, exist.” Integration, assimilation,acculturation, segregation, banishment … Integration,assimilation, acculturation, segregation. Banishment.

People have been migrating from the old times.Migrations can be liable to political occurrences, buthumans have always been a homo migrans. Peopledecide to migrate because of different circumstances:for love, education, natural catastrophes, wars, theyare looking for better living conditions, they can bevictims of persecution, because of their faith, nationality,political views or because they are part of different socialgroups. There are a lot of reasons that often intertwinewith themselves.

To categorise easily bureaucrats havedeveloped different categorisations that people get ina country they are immigrating into. Maybe they will becategorised as Slovene in the course of years, or they willask for asylum, or they will become refugees and get thestatus of foreigner with firm residence in Slovenia. If theywill decide to apply for asylum in Slovenia, there is 98 %chance that they will be moved out of Slovenia.Category of foreigner is very differently accepted inSlovenia and is regulated by different laws. In the sixtiesand seventies, in times of economical development,migrants were well accepted in western societies,whereas today, the situation is changing and iscompletely different.

Only decades ago Slovenia openedfrontiers to young educated people with universitydegree, that came from Arab and African countries,who were offered some scholarships. When Sloveniabecame independent country and by implementingnew imigration politics that were similar to EU strategies,the feeling of acceptance into a society changed. In thepast, immigrants were in the category of “welcomedfriends”, today they are categorised as “different”.

Because the immigration from countries of the third31world, or so called risk countries, has been stopped, theimmigration from Arab countries stayed focused onlyto individuals that migrate because of personal reasons,family networks or wars … European students on theother hand, can migrate freely from one part of Europeto another, but this is changed for the students thatcome from the South. People that come from this partof the world are not perceived as potential anymore, thatcould open new worlds to us, on the contrary, they areperceived as threat. The word foreigner does not have only one meaning.It consist of different aspects of migration experiences,changing of individual beliefs and values, importantsocial questions, political backgrounds, gender,education, micro social history of individuals and socialrecollections.

If I try to connect this to a theatre plot, it is importantto become accustomed to refugees life. Refugees andpersons with subsidiary protection are differentiated byreasons they left the country in which they lived. Theirrights are determined with special set of laws. In theworld there are more than 40 million people that arerefugees. Afghanistan and Iraq are countries that havethe highest number of refugees. On the other side thereis America, which accepts less refugees that Europe, thehighest number of them still stays in Asia. Their paths are radically different from those that weknow, that are consisted mainly with pleasant journeysadvertised by agencies or encouraged by our curiosity.Their stories are shocking.

They find themselves in atransitory state, bound by a country they came from anddo not wish to go back and country they immigratedinto, for which they do not have a visa. They are illegalimmigrants that have to be isolated from the legalpassengers, and returned back: “welcome to the fortressnamed Europe”. These illegal passengers can ask forasylum, when entering Slovenia. Then their suffering ofwaiting is only at the beginning. They are accommodatedin the asylum home or in closed facilities for foreigners,guarded by police. In asylum home they go throughhumiliating disinfectant medical procedures.

Then theyapply for asylum, the fingerprints and photos are taken,they get their identity card.

 

Maja Lamberger Khatib

Tomaž Gregorc