Every evening at the Muntada al-Masrah theatre on Baghdad’s Rashid street, the cast and crew of the first TV drama filmed in Iraq in seven years take their places among the rooms and courtyard of this 19th-century building and shoot new scenes of their highly-anticipated series.
The arts are coming to life again in Baghdad, bringing with it a touch of hope and comfort as the country works to rebuild after 16 years of war.
And after two decades abroad, two of Iraq’s leading actors have returned to take part in The Hotel, the twenty-episode drama set to air during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.
“The Iraqi people are parched for drama,” said Hassan Hosni, a drama star of the 1990s, who returned from Saudi Arabia to direct The Hotel, a show about the seedy underbelly of Baghdad and its entanglement with human trafficking.
It is the first Ramzan drama to be produced in Iraq since 2012, according to the cast and crew, and it heralds a return of an essential TV genre to the country.
For years, Iraqis have been watching dramas from other nations, such as Bab al-Hara, the blockbuster Syrian series set during the 1930s independence movement from France.
With The Hotel, Iraqis will have a home-grown series to watch for the first time in years, amid the longest stretch of stability Baghdad has experienced since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
“We were all waiting for this moment writers, directors and actors with total impatience,” said Mr. Hosni.