This past August at European Forum Alpbach in Austria, Nour Barakeh premiered her theatre piece “Not Our Fate,” a powerful play about the societal dynamics that perpetuate conflict and the pursuit of peace. Ban Ki-moon Centre Co-chairs Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer as well as Board members joined the audience at the premiere.
Barakeh is a young playwright who has experienced life as a refugee firsthand. To create the play, Barakeh conducted interviews in her native Syria, gathering firsthand accounts of life during war and the stages of mutual accusation, estrangement, and finally, shared awareness. The characters in the piece are portrayed by youth of different nationalities and backgrounds, underscoring the universality of the topic.
The play opens with Doaa, a character portrayed by Doaa Al Zamel, real-life subject of the book “A Hope More Powerful than the Sea: One Refugees’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival” by Melissa Flemming. In the play, Doaa speaks about her experience of war, loss, and of her survival.
After Doaa, other characters share their stories and slowly begin pointing fingers at one another, blaming others for their fates. This climaxes in anger and accusations coming from all sides. Suddenly, the room falls silent and the characters turn their backs on one another.
Zina, portrayed by Barakeh, seeks to mediate by explaining the circumstances that led to their current plight, calling for cooperation and understanding. Slowly, the actors turn one by one to face one another, taking hands. This final symbol of unity and peace is profound and moving.
When asked about her experience premiering the play in Alpbach, Barakeh stated,
“’Not Our Fate’ is a real revelation from the heart and a rational analysis seeking methods to build peace among youth in conflict situations. Together with my colleagues from different continents we worked and represented diversity at European Forum Alpbach 2018.”
Having former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer in the audience was particularly meaningful for Barakeh,
“As the Syrian problem symbolizes our world’s interrelated problems, I was honored to perform this piece in front of the man who looked at the core of our interrelated problems and said, ‘leave no on behind.’ Dr. Ban Ki-moon and former Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer honored us with their presence.”
To learn more about the play, check out the video produced by the ORF Akademie 18’ at European Forum Alpbach (German).
Photo by Laurent Ziegler / European Forum Alpbach