Eid in Damascus

Slide4

31 PLAYS IN 31 DAYS: Play 9, Day 9 – Eid in Damascus 

IN THE BLACK, the sound of a mortar barrage –closer, closer.  A whistle of incoming and suddenly, a shell-burst, quite close,  the darkness.

LIGHTS UP on four men seated at a table: SAID, a Sunni Muslim soldier from Maliki, dressed in mufti; YOUSEFF, a populist politician with connections to Christians and Baathist Druze, wearing a dingy suit; DAVID,  second generation immigrant from Palestine to Britain,   a high-level consultant and peace commissioner, tie and shirt-sleeves, and TERRY, an American security expert in a blue Polo and khaki Dockers.                                                               

 

                                                                                SAID:

That was close.

                                                                                DAVID:

How close are we from the palace?

 

Another shell-burst  rocks the room. The men clutch the table.

 

                                                                                SAID:

That close.

 

                                                                                TERRY:

It’s right across the plaza.

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

I thought there was truce.

                                                                                DAVID:

Truth?

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

Truce. Truce: They don’t fighting.

                                                                                TERRY:

For Ramadan?

                                                                                SAID:

For Eid. The end  of Ramadan.

                                                                                DAVID:

They didn’t stop fighting for Ramadan, why would they stop for the end of it?

                                                                                SAID:

Eid al-Fitr is special. Feast of End of Fast, Bajram, the Sweet Festival, first day of the month of Shawwal. All Muslims come together in peace and—

 

TERRY lays his hand across SAID’s, as another whistle indicates another coming interruption, another shell-burst—a big one.  DAVID and YOUSEFF cling to each other. If plaster could fall on them, this would be a good place for it to drizzle down.

 

                                                                                SAID:

Brotherhood. Is Fard. Obligation. Special Salat. Pray. Make Zekibir.

                                                                                TERRY:

Zekibir?

 

SAID cups his hands behind his ears, raises his eyes to the sky, demonstrating.

 

                                                                                SAID:

Allah’hu akbar! Allah’hu akbar!

 

He clasps his hands over his ears and winces as we hear the whistle of another shell, then another huge explosion hits. After a moment, SAID opens his eyes, surprised to be alive.

 

                                                                                SAID:

Praise to Allah.

                                                                                YOUSEFF: (to TERRY)

Six times extra on Eid.

 

Another rocket somewhere.

 

                                                                                TERRY:

(to YOUSEFF) So that’s supposed to be a truce?

 

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

Don’t look me. I am Christian. Those are Sunni bombs.

 

                                                                                DAVID:

Jews made war during Yom Kippur. You can’t stop for holy days. ‘Cause it’s not the other side’s holy day.

                                                                                TERRY:

Christians did in Europe in the Middle Ages.

                                                                                DAVID:

Hate to tell you, Terry, but that’s a myth.

                                                                                TERRY:

How would you know, David?

                                                                                DAVID:

What, because I’m a Jew? I know more about it than you do, Terry. Why are you here? You speak Arabic.

                                                                                TERRY:

And I know Damascus. Oldest continuously occupied city in the world, did you know that?

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

I’m from Antioch.

                                                                                TERRY:

Capitol of Mamuluks and the Ummayids. An engineering marvel, in many ways. And I know the arms trade. (to YOUSEFF:) Those SCUDS are Druz, I suspect.

                                                                                DAVID:

I’ve a PhD in International Relations. My thesis was on the concept of cease-fire. That’s why I’m here.

 

Another shell burst, this one in the near distance.

 

                                                                                TERRY:

Well, you’re doing a great job so far.

                                                                                DAVID:

Bugger off, Terry.

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

Please, don’t fighting. Be like Christ.  Prince of Peace.

                                                                                SAID:

[Bugger off] Youseff. ]

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

Peace, brother. Like Sayul al-Tarsus in road to Damascus.                                                                             

                                                                                TERRY:

Never saw that one.

                                                                                DAVID:

He means the Apostle Paul.                                                                               

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

After light. Before, he was Jew. (to SAID: ) Don’t be Jew.

                                                                                DAVID:

Hey, now!

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

(to DAVID:)  He, not you. He don’t want be Jew.

                                                                                DAVID:

One doesn’t want to be a Jew.

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

No, he no want  be Jew.

                                                                                TERRY:

Even I got that part.

 Look, we’re here to talk logistics. The best way to make peace is to give the anti-Assad forces the tools they need to defeat the regime, or at least negotiate a transition. Take down the Alawite minority or outlast them with a coalition of Sunnis and Druz and Christians.

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

Syrian National Coalition.                                                                             

                                                                                DAVID:

No, that’s not the best way to achieve  peace—

 

There’s an explosion. We hear the whistle of a shell.

 

The best way to achieve peace—

 

A succession of explosions, clearly  closer, closer.

 

                                                                                SAID:

Incoming.

                                                                                DAVID:

-is to bring everybody to the table—

 

There’s a high-pitched whistle.

 

                                                                                YOUSEFF:

Oh, God!

                                                                                SAID:

Allah’hu akbar!

 

A HUGE explosion. BLACKOUT.

END OF PLAY.

 

 

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