An Interview with Ben Power, Director of ‘Spring Reign’ play.

Spring Reign – A story from the Syrian Conflict:

Spring Reign” follows Aisha and Salah, two Syrians who have given refuge to two unexpected Westerners during the war. The play connects photographers, journalists and ordinary people to the Syrian crisis and aims to provide a platform to promote discussion and understanding. It has successfully used real life personal stories to educate those who don’t entirely know what is currently happening in Syria or wish to learn more about it.

When talking to Ben Power, I asked him a few questions starting with how the tour was. The play has been performed on ten different stages beginning at The Lowry in Salford and finishing at a festival theatre in Hyde. Though it only went on for a month, according to the director, the team were highly successful in achieving their aims and goals to begin with. Ben Power said:

“We’ve been able to hear people really appreciate and hear other sides of the Syrian stories. We’ve also been to bigger cities, with more diverse audiences, people with all sorts of different backgrounds coming to watch this play. Again, we’ve had a really fantastic response with these audiences”.

The play has taken a few years to become exactly what the team have wanted it to become. In 2012, the production of the play came into place and a little bit of work was done at Imperial War Museum in Salford in 2013. By 2015, Spring Reign had been taken into the Lowry and a theatre mill in Bradford. It then took a further two years, now 2017, for the play to have travelled around the U.K and for the tour to have taken place.

When asked why the play was called ‘Spring Reign’ Power said:

“While the ‘Arab Spring’ presented hope and positivity through the Middle East, the conflict in Syria has become a humanitarian crisis like no other. In Syria, it was quashed by the oppressive government and his Assad’s reign of terror”.

Director Ben described the play as doing exactly what it aimed to do. With the main stream media showing us the horror and consequences of the Syrian conflict, the play has allowed viewers to see how life has changed for ordinary people such as Salah and Aisha. It has brought communities to come together to understand the extent of the conflict and to find out about organisations who are helping these civilians in Syria.

When I asked him how he’s found the tour, Spring Reign director said: “Very rewarding. My team and I were accepted by the Syrian community and they’ve really supported us with the play. They have had a positive attitude toward it and in some way allowed us to advocate for their cause and it makes me proud that we’ve been able to do this.”

Following on from this, he said that the feedback for the play has also been really good with press releases and audiences showing really good feedback. People have said they were moved and humbled by the performance; that many did not realise the impact the war had on the volume of ordinary people and this play has really shown that. The play has covered topic such as hope and resilience and audiences have really been able to engage with that.

Spring Reign has and is working two charities, Syria Relief and Rethink and Rebuild. Syria Relief are a Manchester based charity which take aid to Syria and work with medics. They also train people on the grounds in Syria and aid them with the basics, such as food and water. Syria Relief have been able to remain the livelihood of the people of Syria and have been able to keep people busy and active.

I then asked him what he thought the solution of the current conflict was. He said that there isn’t a single thing which would be the solution to the crisis. “Nothing can change until civilians are protected. Once people are given safe places and they are allowed to live their lives again without fear. The people who aren’t a part of the opposition groups or the different fraction who oppose to fighting against the government, they need protecting. Once this has happened, there will be space for dialogue”.

The director said that the idea of Spring Reign came by chance, with little background as a political theatre maker, he did not know whether he would enjoy it. He hopes that the work he creates has an impact on the people who watch it, that it encourages them to ask questions but also educate themselves on important topics which affect mass amounts of people.

To find out more about the director Benedict Power and more of his work go to:
http://benedictpower.co.uk