Letters from Mosul

Kirjeitä Mosulista (Letters from Mosul) is a scenic poem about the collision of two cultures, the encounter of Iraqi Ahmed and Finnish Anna. It is based on a true story and it is written by actor Omar Albajaren and director Liisa Isotalo.

The piece addresses refugees’ integration into Finnish socity – a phenomenon, which is especially current after the refugee crisis of 2015. On the stage preconceptions are broken and feelings and thoughts brought on by encountering something foreign are dealt with openly. The piece is a sort of sequel for OSIRIS theatre’s performance Matkalla kotiin (On the Journey) from last year, which was about two Iraqi friends’ flight from Mosul to Helsinki using the means of table puppetry.

Young Ahmed unexpectedly enters Finnish Anna’s, who dreams of a serene life, home. The Iraqi man steps inside. Anna’s distrust turns into interest, orderliness into chaos. Ahmed drags with him the family he left in Mosul, his secret love, memories mutilated by car bombs and dreams of adulthood. Anna and Ahmed look each other eye to eye.

Layer by layer they are both revealed new aspects of humanity, responsibility, honor and love. Eye for an eye or eye to eye and hand in hand?

Audience: youth (14+) and adults
Language: Finnish and Arabic, the performance can be understood in both languages
Duration: 2,5 h with one interval
Tickets: 29/27/19 €

See trailer

Press and bloggers’ reviews:

”Liisa Isotalo’s concept and direction builds a beautiful ballad on the stage about the encounter of an Iraqi man, Ahmed (Omar Albajare and Jussi Järvinen) and a Finnish woman, Anna (Mira Kivelä).” – Pasi Puranen, blog ”Pessin ja Illusian luona”.

”Letters from Mosul is at times very touching. Especially the realistic video calls Ahmed gets from his home country Iraq stick to mind. The breaking video connection and bad reception create a realistic picture of a serious situation between life and death and bring the characters close to the audience. The performance is at its best in these parts, where people appear from behind the stories. Kaisa Siirala’s and Ali Haithem’s live music is an important part part of the performance’s atmosphere. The music together with the pictures taken in Iraq take the audience to the banks of river Tigris and in this way create an opposite image for the life Ahmed has in Finland.” – Eeli Vilhunen, newspaper ”Demokraatti”.

”The letters from Mosul, which also appear in the performance’s name, are also touching – practically the video calls Ahmed has with his family in Iraq. A low-resolution picture, breaking reception and Ahmed’s reactions are haunting. They’re not talking about the weather but who has been killed.” – Tuomas Kaseva, newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Audience feedback:

”Letters from Mosul is theatre achievement that made me think how common our world is. The performance’s world music, the foreign-language speech and the coexistence of cultures in the story made me hopeful. I want to thank the whole working group. I strongly recommend the performance.” – Erja Salo

”It was a very impressive performance indeed.” – Juhani Maunula

”Osiris finds an authentic approach to the current refugee issue.” – Anna Brunow

”Letters from Mosul was absolutely lovely!!!! Multi-layered, symbolic, beautifully executed. Few theatre performances reach this high. My hubby cried half of the time and liked the performance a lot, too. They had managed to summarize the whole story beautifully and still all the essential components were there. A superb experience!”

”They used Finnish, Arabic and some English in the performance. The language barrier disappeared while watching the play – I felt like I understood both Finnish and Arabic – like the main characters – I was in Mosul and Helsinki simultaneously. The language wasn’t an obstacle or a place.”

”I liked the mythicism of the performance – Tigris was a river, a being, home. Water was described beautifully as an element uniting people. The performance was ponderous, it didn’t preach anything, no ”right opinions”, but approached things from different directions and aspects. Music and languages moved around and blended into each other gracefully.”

”The actors did a marvelous job. They went all in and became real persons for the audience. There was no confrontation, even though very different worlds, cultures collided. I liked the poeticism of the performance. The poeticism of the languages: Tigris, waves, home somewhere. The visual presentation was insightful. Nothing unnecessary in the background, but pictures taking you into the play. The performance left a feeling – my thought continued on with the story, its views, life goes on. The individuals lived intensively behind their characters. And Anna’s performance was exquisite. Real and true. Letters from Mosul was a piece of life, here and now. Thank you Liisa and working group.” – Liisa Harkkomaa

”After the last evening’s performance I was moved and confused. The final image and the speech went in deep. It was good that the ending was left open. The main character supported, barely alive, a strong woman on his left and a man on the right was a powerful image. Heart-wrenching. Ahmed’s actor’s (Omar Albajare) work was delicate and serious through the play.”

”I liked the script and the direction, scenes and dialogue felt true. – – The script and the direction gave what you had promised: brought forth people’s differences and similarities in a dramatic manner. I liked that there were no easy solutions, perhaps no solutions at all. Situations and problems were shown and that’s it. You trusted the audience.”

”What an overload of information, images from war zone, strong but still funny, recognizable from my own attitudes. I was laughing at myself. Mira Kivelä was like at home on the stage. Great acting. The videos worked very well. As well as using both Finnish and Arabic. I don’t think I’ve ever heard as much Arabic as I did last night. Today I heard it in the subway and children’s clinic, my world widened a bit. Also: for once the Middle-Eastern men’s world in relation to women was portrayed honestly, that’s it. – – A notable statement made in the means of theatre. Congratulations!” – Aino-Kaarina

”I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the beautiful and delicate play!! I liked it a lot.” – Kim Amberla

”Thank you for last night’s fantastic performance! It held my interest until the end and opened the issue beautifully from different aspects. I had a tear in my eye twice: when the red flower entered the stage and when they talked about mothers. And the boxes merged finely with the mobile phone’s pixels… a large and a small world. – – You’re doing a marvelous job!!!!!! Congratulations to the whole working group.” – Uli Kontu-Korhonen

”A special thank you to Kaisa Siirala and Ali Haithem. After the performance I talked with my friend, that we should almost see the play again, it woke so many thoughts and feelings.” – Emilia

”Thank you for the performance! I thought it was a good idea to use a mixture of languages. It’s healthy to be an outsider also in the audience every now and then. Although I felt out of it at times, and it wasn’t because of the language. I couldn’t follow the two Ahmeds. At times there was one and at times there were two? Two young men with different body languages portraying the same person was interesting to look at, though. Cultures collided right there. Living constantly between two worlds was expressed very well. Today many people’s lives are like that, compulsorily or voluntarily. It’s not easy even in the latter case. Wishing you luck with the last shows and a lovely spring!” – Hanna Tamminen

Past panels:

After the performance of 6-4-2018: In danger because of one’s profession

Some of the refugees in Finland are in danger in their home countries because they’re seen as threats due to their professions. Muluken Tesfaw, an Ethiopian journalist, has lived in Finland since 2016. Muluken was forced to flee from Ethiopia because of their work, and was even detained a while in a prison in their home country. Omar Albajare, an Iraqi actor, has lived in Finland since 2015. He moved from Mosul to Finland because he was in danger in his own country due to his job as an actor. The discussion will be conducted by Kaisa Väkiparta, Amnesty International Finland’s publicist. The discussion will be held in English.

After the performance of 7-4-2018: The situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Finland now

Asylum seekers’ situation has raised a lot of discussion since 2015. What has happened in the asylum process within over two years? What kind of backgrounds do the people come from and what are the reasons for turning them away? What is the situation right now? How have the refugees in Finland assimilated?

Statements will be made by Eero Mäntymaa, a journalist at Yle, who has familiarized himself with the subject through his work and Erna Bodström, who is now finalizing their doctoral dissertation about immigration. Journalist Outi Popp, an activist from Right to Live organization, also brings their aspect into the subject. We will also hear the immigrant perspective during the evening. Panel will be directed by Tuula Linsiö.

After the performance of 11-4-2018: Aspects to the differences and similarities of Nordic and Oriental cultures

Immigration raises the topic of both cultural differences and the immigrants’ assimilation into Finnish culture. What are the biggest challenges when Nordic and Oriental cultures meet? What are the means to soften the cultural differences? What is it that combines us all?

Pekka Haavisto, who has worked in crisis areas and gathered wide international experience, and nonfiction writer, Ph.D Helena Hallenberg will join the discussion. Salli Hakala will be directing the panel.