While I was waiting

© Didier NADEAU

Program Information

Genre / Country Theatre / SYRIA
Dates 3 May at 14:30, 4 May at 13:00
Venue At Shizuoka Arts Theatre
Duration 100 minutes
Language In Arabic with Japanese subtitles
seat Non-reserved seat
Directed by Omar ABUSAADA
© Didier NADEAU
© Didier NADEAU
© Didier NADEAU


Listen to the breathing of those living in a country in chaos.

Syria is in a state of war, and ”While I Was Waiting” is a truly remarkable play about ordinary citizens still living through it every day. Written by the exiled Syrian playwright Mohammad AL ATTAR directed by Omar ABUSAADA, who still lives in the capital Damascus, the play centres around a young man who tries to video daily life in the city and show the lives of his family members.
On stage, the result is a splendid portrayal of people caught up between anxiety and hope in an incredibly complex political situation. For the actors, though, all that has been part of their real, everyday lives, and as they perform their roles they seem to rise above the level of normal humanity — acutely reminding audiences of what’s still happening in Syria and the fact it relates to their lives, too.
“While I Was Waiting” had its world premiere in May 2016 at the prestigious Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, Belgium, since when it has toured around Europe to huge applause in every venue. SPAC is pleased to have this early opportunity to present such a standout work at the World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2017.


Taim, a young man living in Damascus, joins the movement for democracy in Syria. However, his pacifistic opinions are bitterly criticized by others who are taking up arms against the government. Then Taim finds his mission by filming in the district where he grew up and spent all his life. One day, though, he is attacked at a checkpoint, and as he lies critically injured in hospital he hears and observes conversations between his family members, friends and his lover about their lives amid the country’s political chaos.

Director’s Profile

© Isabelle MEISTER

A Syrian director and playwright.
After finishing his theatrical studies at the High Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, Omar started working as a dramaturge and moved into directing later. He co-founded a theatrical company called “Studio theater” in Damascus and In 2004 he directed his first theatrical work “Insomnia”.
He directed “Al affich” (2006), “Samah”, an improvisation work with a group of boys in a juvenile prison, “Almirwad wa almikhala” (2009). In 2011 he directed “look at the streets … this is what hope look like”, “Could You Please Look into the Camera?” (2012), “intimacy” (2013), “Syria Trojan women” (2013), “Antigone of shatila” (2014).
His Last piece “While I was waiting” was premiered in Kunsten Festival, Brussels in May 2016, and was selected for the official program of the 70th edition of Festival d’Avignon.
Omar introduced different ideas of contemporary writing, documentary and oppressed theater for theater working in Syria. He works for years in remote villages, and local communities in Syria, Egypt, and Yemen.
His works took place in different international festivals.
Omar run many workshops in the fields of contemporary theater writing and directing.

Writer’s Profile

Mohammad AL ATTAR
A Syrian playwright and dramaturge.
Graduated with a degree in English literature from Damascus University in 2002; and a degree in Theatrical Studies from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus in 2007. He also received a Masters in Applied Drama (with special focus on the political & social role of theater), from Goldsmiths, London in 2010.
His theatrical works like: “Withdrawal”, “Samah” , “Online”, “Look at the street…this is what hope looks like”, “Could You Please Look into the Camera?”, “ A Chance Encounter”, “Intimacy” and “Antigone of Shatila”, have been performed in Damascus, London, New York, Seoul, Berlin, Brussels, Edinburgh, Tunis, Athens, Marseilles, Beirut and elsewhere.
His Last piece “While I was waiting”, directed by Omar Abusaada, was premiered in Kunsten Festival, Brussels in May 2016, and was selected for the official program of the 70th edition of Festival d’Avignon.
He has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, with a special focus recently on the Syrian Uprising. Beside his writings for stage, he continues his work using theater in projects with marginalized groups across the Arab World.


◎Pre-performance talk: Starting 35 minutes before each performance
◎Post-performance talk by the artists: 3 May

Cast / Staff

Directed by Omar ABUSAADA
Written by Mohammad AL ATTAR
Performed by Mohammed AL RASHI, Nanda MOHAMMAD, Mohammad AL REFAI, Reham AL KASSAR, Hanan CHKIR, Mustafa KUR

Co-production: Festival d’Avignon, Napoli Teatro Festival, AFAC Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Pôle Arts de la scène – Friche La Belle de Mai (Marseille), Theater Spektakel (Zürich), Onassis Cultural Centre (Athènes), Vooruit (Gent), La Bâtie Festival de Genève, Les Bancs publics – Festival Les Rencontres à l’échelle (Marseille), Festival d’Automne at Paris
With the help of La Criée Théâtre national de Marseille, Le Tarmac (Paris), Montévidéo Marseille

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