by Tammy Swofford, Daily Times Pakistan
Any man who wants to line up women to check out their hidden parts is certainly not averting his gaze
Act I: bigots make bad neighbours.
In the first act, the principal character, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, makes his appearance on stage in the flowing black robes of a war-cleric. He is known by his kunya (name given in respect to an elder) ‘bad knees’ and is seen climbing the stairs in the manner of a man whose time is rapidly degrading and whose end is near. As he delivers a fiery oration, a magnificent digital presentation displays a collage of images from Mosul. Convoys of cars are seen leaving the city. Bakeries are closed and shops are shuttered. Schools are vacant and only men are noted outside the homes.
As the principal character leaves the stage we are greeted with a spectacular amplification of music from the orchestra pit. The percussion section releases a cadence that rivets our attention to the dozens of men marching onto the stage. This is accompanied by a spectacular display of pyrotechnics with multi-coloured flashes of light and smoke. Gold and silver glitter is released from the catwalks to represent the looting of 500 billion Iraqi dinars from the central Mosul bank. The audience is then engulfed in the action as the men move from the stage and into the aisles to dance to War Pigs by Black Sabbath (from the live performance track, Paris 1970). With weapons twirling and aiming their rifles at the heads of the audience, ‘Shakespeare in Mosul’ becomes a spectacular adult entertainment venue.
The act concludes with a decree against Christians. The stage is changed to a calmer setting: a narrow street in the city of Mosul. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Carol of the Bells is the backdrop as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi makes his movement back onto the stage. He nails signs onto the doors of all of the Christian homes. He is followed by men who also spray paint the walls of the residences to assure the homes are targeted.
Act II: rapists make bad lovers.
The act opens with the spotlight on a chorus line of males from the ages of 10 through 18. Each man stands with his fist raised. The spotlight shifts to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is standing silently at the back of the stage. As he raises his fist and turns, our attention is directed to the middle of the stage. Females from the age of fertility through the age of childbearing are bound to a roughly hewn post. Their wrists are tethered to the top of the post. The orchestra plays the ‘sword dance’, in the tradition of an old Highland dance, the Ghillie Callum. This is an ancient war dance of the Scottish Gael and is said to find its historical timestamp back to King Malcolm Canmore (Shakespeare’s Macbeth). Today the dance is typically done with one dancer performing over two crossed swords. ‘Bad knees’ is unable to perform the intricate steps so the understudy is used for the sword dance. As he performs, the protagonist pulls a decree from under his turban and his shouting is heard in the background.