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Rudaw

Interview

Syrian actor laments loss of art in war-torn Syria

By Rudaw 16/6/2017
Husam Tahsin Bek. Photo: Syria TV
Husam Tahsin Bek. Photo: Syria TV
Husam Tahsin Bek is a well-known Syrian actor who has participated in nearly 40 dramas. He is a known figure in theatre, cinema and singing. 

Born in Damascus in 1941, Bek has a son and a daughter, Rakan and Nadin, who have followed in their father’s footsteps.
 
He was a guest on Rudaw’s Damascus Face, a program presented by Rim Maruf.

 
Rudaw: It is your first time appearing on a Kurdish television channel. What do you want to tell its viewers?
 
Husam Tahsin Bek: May God turn their moments into happiness. You spoke about a Kurdish channel and my main job is the art and culture. Kurdish dancing and melodies attracted me. The Kurds have a long and rich history in art. Kurdish melodies are nice. They appeal to the heart.
 
Some artists left Syria due to the crisis facing the country. Why did you decide to stay?
 
Who can be away from the warm embrace of one’s mother? Syria is that warm embrace which one cannot at any time be away from or one would feel cold.
 
Is this love only for Syria, or there is a lover in Bek’s life?
 
I don’t wish to hide this from you that the whole Arab world is very important to me. However, the crisis which we went through was unfortunately very painful. I was very committed to my Arabic identity. But I feel lost at the moment.
 
What do you think of the past and current dramas of Syria?
 
It’s clear that Syrian dramas were better [in the past]. At times of crisis, I thank all companies, actors, writers, producers, and all others who continue this work. I can’t say we are the same as before. We are behind for many reasons. We lost some actors, making scenarios suffer. Then production declined.  
 
Productions declined and were politicized?
 
Yes, sure. In general, we are left behind.
 
You spent a long life doing art. Do you feel like you haven’t been treated fairly by art?
 
No, not completely. I entered the world of art by accident. I really don’t know how I ended up here. I have never thought of this discussion. I think the injustice of time was that I couldn’t study music in an academic way.
 
You spoke about music. How do you see the condition of music in the Arab world, especially in Syria?  
 
It’s very behind. People thought hard in the past before composing some melody or writing some poetry. They knew they would later face a lot of criticism. The job has nowadays become a printing machine. Tens of songs might be produced daily, but they will all consequently be the same and forgotten.
 
You wrote the script for the Kanush episode. What happened to it? You say the Syrian environment in this series is different compared to all the other Syrian dramas. Is this fair to say?
 
I wrote this production because I had critical observations on all those working in Syria. They unfortunately didn’t portray the environment realistically. This is in no way the environment of Syria. My episode isn’t the best, but it is the most honest. I wrote what I saw.
 
What has changed in Syrian art? What do you regret in your life?
 
I am never regretful. But the crisis has changed a lot of things. In the past, there was a greater sense of responsibility and respect. Rectifying our current situation is difficult. Art is being disrespected.
 
What do you have to say about Dured Laham?
 
He is my teacher.
 
What do you think of Kafrun film?
 
It’s a very courageous film because the most difficult thing is to deal with children. In Kafrun film, Dured works with children. He was a parent and a teacher. It was very difficult. But it was a great success in the end.
 
What do you think of Bab al-Hara?
 
It started with the right artistic steps. But then people were disrespected. What is this? Abu Hisam died and then returned. They make fun of people. He died and was buried, why should he come back? This is disrespectful and belittling of work. The whole story has turned into business and is related to sponsorships and channels. It has completely become business.
 
Is it not politicization?
 
The person who wrote this doesn’t understand it or has just played with it. This is lack of understanding. I am sorry this is a bit unpleasant. I liken them to ISIS. ISIS destroyed history in Tadmur and these people are destroying the environment. This is an important environment. These are our roots. Nobody should distort it.
 
What do you have to say about Nadin and Rakan Tahsin Bek?
 
Rakan was initially doing makeup. He then became an actor without my knowledge. Nadin went to change the atmosphere in the series. As Hisham Sharbatchi told me, this lady was gold covered in dust. Only you can remove the dust. I don’t want to tell her anything because I know she is more intelligent than me. I am ignorant in life.  

 

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