My Audience | Text By Amr Gamal

The stereotype perceived by others of my country often hurts me. In their minds, Yemen is war. In their minds, Yemen is rugged mountains. In their minds, Yemen are people who live in prehistoric times. Men chewing a narcotic plant called ‘Khat’. Violence, so much violence. Weapons and religious extremism. This often hurts me. It does so because that is not the reality of my country.

In a world where negative perception and image triumphs over the positive, people forget everything about my country. They forget that this is a country of a thousand-year-old civilization. Magical nature and impressive terrain. People forget everything about my country. They forget the colorful costumes and the delicious food. They forget my country’s unique music and dances.

For me, I choose to reduce my country to these images along this text. These people. The great art audience of Yemen. Those people reflect the true image of my country. This audience represents me. This audience represents my country. A cheerful audience; sanctifying joy, appreciating the arts - an essential part of their life. A peaceful audience; taking their entire family to see a play, a movie, an exhibition. Despite all challenges, all political and economic circumstances, this audience is people with a big desire to live.

Those smiling faces - of different gender and age gaps, sitting side by side in my plays and films without social or religious barriers. Those are the true image of my country. Those laughers that stem from the hearts of thousands of my countrymen and countrywomen are the ones that embraced me for more than 15 years. They supported me, believed in me and my art. Those are the true Yemen that no one knows about.

3 January 2020 | Amr Gamal