A special screening of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V took place this weekend at the Ainkawa 2 Refugee Camp in Erbil, Northern Iraq (Kurdistan).
Co-presented by the British Council, Screens of Peace and Gatherton Arts, the film was shown with Arabic subtitles on a huge inflatable screen and was organised as part of the British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme.
The camp is under the management of the Assyrian Catholic Church run by Father Emmanuel. The people living there are mostly from Mosul areas such as Bartella and Qaraqosh.
Shakespeare Lives is part of the Shakespeare Lives programme of events and activities which are illuminating Iraq in 2016, initially in the Kurdistan Region. This unprecedented project celebrates William Shakespeare, the world's most famous and popular playwright, as part of the global celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of his death.
David Pardoe, Deputy Director of the British Council in Iraq said: “William Shakespeare is one of Britain’s most loved and widely recognised literary figures, but what is sometimes less well known is his popularity and deep resonance in modern day Iraq.
"Shakespeare’s plays and poems were translated into Arabic centuries ago, his works and words have been performed on the Iraqi stage by generations of talented and passionate actors, his plays enjoyed by theatre audiences who have lovingly sat through performances despite the traumatic and turbulent events going on around them. Shakespeare’s enduring themes of conflict; family and political intrigue, speaking truth to power and romantic love resonate with modern Iraqi audiences.
"Shakespeare’s works are studied by millions of schoolchildren in Iraq as part of the school curriculum. Sometimes however this means a lot of people in Iraq come to know Shakespeare as a literary figure, by showing Branagh’s cinematic and accessible version of Henry V we are bringing Shakespeare to new audiences.
"On a lighter diplomatic note, the film portrays a time when England was at war with France, thankfully things have moved on considerably since those days and we are really pleased to be organising this screening specifically with our French partners, Screens of Peace who work with film and displaced communities in Iraq.”
The British Council in Iraq is proud to organise plays, symposia, film screenings, poetry readings, and workshops for young people who are refugees from Syria and displaced people from all parts of Iraq as part of the Shakespeare Lives programme worldwide.
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