By a group of Syrian refugees in Reyhanli, Turkey with the support of Karam House—Afnan, 15; Ahmad, 16; Fatima, 18; Hayam, 16; Mohammed A., 16; Mohammed, 16; Mustafa, 16; Nour Al Huda, 16; Rasha, 16; and Sedra, 15
Translated from Arabic.
The King: A dictator; angry, cold, insensitive.
Thaer: The revolutionary; a young, driven, impatient dreamer of freedom. Passionate with his people, tough with his enemies.
Khaled: A young man; hesitant but quietly driven.
Maria: A very strong young woman who impacts the people around her in a powerful way.
Lara: Hesitant, always afraid.
Rama: Adamant, insists on her way; strong and passionate.
Lana: A young woman who loves modern conveniences and the advantages of modern life. She has drive and passion but is soft.
Fatima: Always hides her feelings. The revolution engaged her after she realized its essence, then embraced its meaning.
Welcome to all our guests. Revolutions, and especially the revolutions in the Arab lands today, aren’t simple events that can be conveyed in a play of less than half an hour. The reality is the blood of the people. It’s not easy to fully portray their pain and suffering. This play may not be one-hundred percent accurate or an exact mirror of reality, but it seeks to present the way in which the demonstrations the youth brought to the streets were driven by their passion for freedom. Thank you for attending.
A procession through the kingdom as the KING and his entourage pass through. Sitting on his throne, he exudes power. Next to him are his courtiers. The poor people in tattered clothes walk by, cursing the procession.
(quiet and afraid)
Oh, people, we need to start the movement now. Enough of silence and fear. We’re fed up. We should no longer tolerate this oppression. Don’t you see our ruler’s transgressions?
(in a very soft voice)
What are you doing, Thaer? Do you want to get us all killed? The King has forbidden us to even think about democracy. Stop it. You don’t know what will happen to us.
You may tempt fate and survive, but what about the millions of people who will be implicated and caught up in what you do? And if you’re killed, what about all those who see you as their hero—what about them? Do you know what will happen?
Stop it! This only creates fear, and if someone hears this talk, it will be the end of us.
An alley in the kingdom.
From afar, someone speaks. A suspicious gathering. In a secret location, young people come together and then disperse.
Friends, enough of fear. Let’s prepare to claim our rights.
You’re going to get us killed!
Let’s talk about something we can actually accomplish, something realistic.
My loved ones, my friends, my family— what’s wrong with you? You hear and see, and don’t speak out. Is it worth it for you to lose the dignity which you only claim to have? Or your honor and pride, which you are burying with your own hands? Your conscience is drugged while you sleep. Answer me, for the sake of the life you dream of. Do you want to applaud empty idols and worship gangsters and obey ignorant thugs? Don’t you believe in yourselves? I swear to God, who is generous of spirit and who makes all things right, that you will be shunned by His mercy. I want you as I knew you—free and with self-respect. Revolutionary. Don’t be like animals, without a sense of purpose and destiny.
The King’s minions are collecting taxes by force from the poor merchants.
With all this oppression and aggression, I’m beginning to understand Thaer’s words.
Me too. I can’t tolerate this stealing from the people while the rich are in their palaces, surrounded by flatterers and covered in gold.
We need to work together, hand in hand, and not let each other down. We need to regain balance in our country. This is our mission.
I completely agree with you.
I’m with you too, and I will stay with you until my last breath. And this will be the pin of the grenade—we will rekindle the conscience of the people.
What about you, Lara?
(waiting for everyone, speaking hesitantly)
I’ll be with you.
(stepping forward and speaking)
Tomorrow will be our first outcry against their arrogance.
In front of the King’s palace.
Everyone is approaching the throne and glancing at each other.
Who are we and who are you?
We are the hidden voice of justice, and you are the voice of oppression.
We are the driving force, and you are steering us without knowing where you’re going.
We are the light, and you are extinguishing us.
Let’s all repeat: this kingdom is ours; it does not belong to the King’s minions. We are the owners of the kingdom, not you.
More and more people pick up the chant.
While the crowd is shouting, the throne begins to quake and the KING orders his minions to attack. LARA is killed, and everyone withdraws from the square where they were assembling.
The curtain closes.
The curtain opens on the same hiding place. There are new members of the group, but all are downcast over LARA’s death.
(standing in the center, cries out)
What’s wrong with this ruler? Does he want to kill us simply for asking for our basic rights? What would he do if we went even further—to demand his removal?
I think this is our new mission. Everyone prepare to instruct the people to demand their rights.
The curtain closes.
The curtain opens on the square. RAMA starts by claiming power for the people and an end to the tyranny and oppression of the oppressor. Everyone begins to chant, and then spears start to fall all around them.
KHALED and LANA are killed, and RAMA is captured. She appears with her face bloodied, saying, “I know I will never be freed from this prison, but my hope is you will continue what we started.”
The people gather publicly for the funeral of the martyrs. THAER and MARIA are among them.
Do you think you will get away with what you did? Do you think people’s lives are the pillars of your throne?
You can kill people, but you cannot kill ideas. And you cannot escape the day of reckoning.
We will not kill you because to kill you would change nothing. We all know you are only a puppet.
I’ve had enough. You’ve gone too far. I made you—you were nothing. Yes, it’s now your end. Now—yes, now. We will not be merciful to any of you.
Kill us, but before you do, you need to know that when we started this uprising, we were soaked in blood for speaking against injustice and oppression. We are not afraid of losing our lives for the sake of these ideals. Yes, you can kill one or two of us, but today we, the people, claim that sovereignty is ours.
I will say it again: freedom from oppression is an idea that will never die.
They all gather with the PEOPLE and line up in front of the KING.
Oh guards, who are you? Our children, our brothers, our family— wake up before it’s too late. Take off this uniform of weakness and humiliation.
(crying and quiet)
We are the weakest.
No, we are the strongest.
They take the hands of the GUARDS, and together they seize the KING so that he is alone in a circle of the people. It is the end of the time of oppression and tyranny and the start of the time of justice and equality.
About the Project
There are millions of children affected by war, social collapse, and climate change now living in refugee camps or dispersed in host countries far from their original homes. The work that appears here is a part of Stone Soup’s growing collection of creative expression by young people whose lives have been upended by such conflict throughout the world. To explore the entire collection, please visit the Stone Soup Refugee Project online: https://stonesoup.com/refugee-project/.