Playwright Omar El-Khairy has made use of the fraud-fictional narrative spawned by Tom McMaster, the once-upon-a-time “Gay Girl in Damascus,” to explore, I’d think, reality and unreality and all the places in between:
According to a mention today in The Guardian, “Sour Lips, by young UK playwright Omar El-Khairy, tackles what the producers call ‘one of the most important political and digital stories of recent years’ in a ‘multi-lingual piece fusing fantasy, non-fiction and dynamic action.’”
For those who don’t remember, the “Gay Girl in Damascus” was originally the (apparent) blog of a woman named Amina Arraf (the photo was of a different, real woman, snagged off Facebook). Arraf was, according to the blog, a lesbian living in Damascus. When this fictional persona was kidnapped, it stirred first a wave of international activism and news coverage around the globe. Then, as the story unraveled, it stirred an equal and opposite wave of fury, fear, and disgust when it was discovered that the “Gay Girl” was really a bearded American guy living in Edinburgh, UK. McMaster also tried to turn the narrative into a book, but it appeared only briefly on Amazon before being removed, presumably by the author.
Now, McMaster’s fictional narrative has spawned another fiction, although one with a good deal more promise. “Sour Lips” is set to debut at the Ovalhouse Theater on Jan. 29.
The play’s author, El Khairy, is almost certainly a real guy who is co-founder of Paper Tiger, an international theater and film collective. His first full-length play, Given the Times, was a story about layoffs in a new-media enterprise. He is currently working on a new full-length play, Soft Sand, and his short film, Tunnels, is in production with Idioms Film in the West Bank.
On the play’s Facebook page, organizers write:
DAMASCUS 18:00 – Amina was walking near Fares Al-Khouri Street when three armed men seized her. According to an eyewitness, Amina was bustled into a red Dacia Logan with a bumper sticker of Basel Assad. The men are assumed to be members of the Ba’ath Party militia or one of the security services.
Amina’s present location is still unknown.
Sour Lips runs at Ovalhouse 29 January – 16 February 2013. Tickets are available from Ovalhouse Box Office on 020 7582 7680 or online atwww.ovalhouse.com
You can follow “Sour Lips” on Twitter at @sourlips_a_play. And, for a refresher, a video from McMaster:
If you would like to go and cover it for ArabLit, I think this could be great fun and could spawn interesting discussions.