Lois Abdelmalek (standing), Taysha Marie Canales, Justin Jain, Sarah Gliko, and Anthony Martinez-Briggs in KISS. Photo by Johann Austin.

KISS POST-SHOW RESOURCES

Thank you for attending Kiss!

Now that you’ve seen the show, we’ve collected some resources and materials that might help you think through the production’s questions and provocations – and then move those reflections into action.

Some of the things we’ve been asking as we explore the impact of this show include: What is the role of an international community in a local uprising or contest over power? What role can artists hope to play in the building of meaningful cross-cultural, transnational solidarity? Given the history of American imperialism, how can progressives be smart, today, about advocating for and against intervention in the Middle East and beyond? We don’t have answers (or the same answers!) to all of these but we hope Kiss invited you to explore these questions and others who saw or with whom you’ve talked about the show.

In some ways it is not a good time to be discussing the conflict in Syria – global attention has moved on. For most of 2022, Ukraine was the focus of global humanitarian action. But the situation in Syria and for displaced Syrians in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey in 2022 and 2023 is in many ways as dire as it was in 2014 when images of Hungarian border guards tripping fleeing families first made international headlines and pushed Syria into the humanitarian limelight. The question of where that light gets shone and the relative obscurity of Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Syria is something all global citizens of conscience need to reckon with. 

In the meantime, the most meaningful solidarity might start at home. In your own reading lists and podcast queue, among your neighbors, with your friends. Syrian artists, students, and families are and have been in Philly and are eager to share their stories. Below we’ve collected some reading, listening, and viewing that might help those eager to continue unraveling what solidarity with Syria could look like as well as a list of local arts and culture outfits hosting and supporting Syrians in Philly today.

READING

Rayya El Zein, “How People Outside Syria Can Think about Helping Syrians.” Vox December 19, 2016.

  • This piece responds to the outpouring of concern from the international community around atrocities in Aleppo in the beginning of 2016. It tries to step back from the urgency of that moment to offer alternatives for thinking about what solidarity can look like – from local organizing to political education to mourning. 

Rohini Hensman, Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2018.

  • This indispensable book takes a critical look at progressive and leftist discourses that have foregrounded “anti-imperialism” over all else. The chapters on Syria explore how an American left, eager not to expand a military footprint in the Middle East, ended up emboldening authoritarian actors in Syria.

Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, and Nawara Mahfoud, eds. Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. London: Saqi Books, 2014.

  • An interdisciplinary compilation of original poetry, song, visual art, and analysis from Syrian artists and authors and regional specialists. A compelling snapshot of the creativity of the early years of the Syrian revolution.

LISTENING

The Refugee Monologue Podcast, hosted by Kiss director Fadi Skeiker

“Good morning, Kafranbel,” reporter Dana Ballout on the podcast This American Life (2019) about a community radio station in Kafranbel, Syria.

“Syria’s Stolen Memories” a story about preserving cultural heritage in Syria in the podcast Kerning Cultures (2022)

VIEWING

As Far as My Fingertips Can Take Me (Tania El Khoury and Basel Daraa) performance piece featuring original music and poetry exploring experiences of Syrian refugees immigrating to Europe. 

LOCAL WORK

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture: performances, workshops, festivals, language classes hosted by the Philadelphia area Arab-American community.

12 Gates Arts: Old City gallery showcasing international, multidisciplinary arts crossing geographic and cultural boundaries.

Friends, Peace, Sanctuary Project, Swarthmore College 2017-2019

Syria in Ink, Molly Crabapple and Marwan Hisham, Haverford College (2019)

YallaPunk, queer, SWANA-focuses musical festival (currently on hiatus)