Thursday, May 8, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 8 May 2008

From MNF-I, First Iraqi Comedy in Wasit since 2003.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA — Actors from the popular Iraqi sitcom, “Mud House,” performed the first comedic play May 4 in Wasit Province since 2003.

“People and People” conveyed Iraqi life from a comedic perspective to entertain the Wasit audience and give them hope and optimism for the future, as described by the actors, An’am al-Rubay’ai, Ali Dakhil and Majid Yasin.

Fifteen hundred people filled the Municipality Hall in al-Kut to see the play, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in coordination with the 214th Fires Brigade and the Iraqi Police.

The IP estimated another 3,000 people were waiting outside the theater, said Vanessa Beary, public diplomacy officer for the Wasit Provincial Reconstruction Team.

“The large turnout was a positive indicator of Wasit’s desire for a return to normalcy,” she said.

Colonel Peter Baker, commander of the 214th FB, said the event was very well received.

“It was impossible not to be caught up with the audience’s laughter,” he said. “It was a very light and joyful mood.

“Attending the play, I was challenged by the language barrier, but the actors were so good at acting their comedic parts that it transcended both language and cultural barriers,” Baker said.

The event granted the people of Wasit an opportunity to forget their troubles, if only for a night, Baker said.

“Perhaps it is a turning point for the quality of life for Iraqi citizens in Wasit,” he said. “I see it as a high point: life returning to normal for people in Wasit.”

Iraqi Security Forces handled security for the event.

This showed a big step forward in security and a good community gathering, said 1st Lt. Randy Heath, a platoon leader for Company F, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), from Fort Campbell, Ky.

“The community had trust in the security provided by the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army,” he said. “They seemed to really enjoy the play.”

Baker said ISF remained conscious of the opportunity for mishap because of the large number of people gathered. “It’s an indication of the growth of their capabilities. They are more proactive and organized. There were no incidents.”

Because of the large turnout, the actors held an encore performance May 5.