Satire has been extensively used in Lebanon and Southwestern Asia/North Africa as a tool in revolutions. It has also been used with subversive intent where political dissent is forbidden or repressed. Arleb by Nabad interviews the creator of the Lebanese satirical WASTA board game, Elie Kesrouany.
Arleb by Nabad – Tell us more about you…
Elie Kesrouany – I am a huge board game enthusiast, a Librarian (18 years), and a storyteller. I have a creative mind when it comes to writing and art. I create games and I own a board game coffee shop called On Board. I love creating places where people can unplug their phones and connect with others.
Arleb by Nabad – What is the Wasta game?
Elie Kesrouany – WASTA is a 100 % satirical Lebanese board game based on life in Lebanon. It was made as a reaction to our frustration vis-a-vis the system and it focuses both on spreading awareness through the rules of the game and on creating a good laugh in these difficult times. Its audience is Lebanese and non Lebanese alike from age 12 and up. I believe that spreading a message through laughter is a much easier way to get to people than talking about depressing things.
Arleb by Nabad – Can you explain the word ‘Wasta’ and the impact of nepotism on Lebanese everyday life and governance?
Elie Kesrouany – Wasta or nepotism is the the main reason why our Lebanese system is falling apart. It’s when you use your influence and people you know in order to get what you want or even get to bend the law or do things that are not fair or legal just because of influence. The aim of the game is to spread a message to cause the opposite.
Arleb by Nabad – What was the impact of the Beirut port explosions (August 4, 2020) on your work/ your creative enterprise?
Elie Kesrouany – The Beirut explosion made me stop working for a very long period. I suffered a lot just like other Lebanese, but I believe that now more than ever artists and people are needed to not let those criminals and the cause of such an event get away with their wrongdoings. I believe that now I — like many others in Lebanon — became more devoted to making a change. Economically, we find ourselves in a tough situation, but I am still managing and I am still standing.
Arleb by Nabad – What are, according to you, the roles of arts and culture in social, economic, environmental, or political change?
Elie Kesrouany – Art and culture are the main blood vain of a healthy society. I believe art and culture should not only be seen as entertainment for it is through them that society can be fixed and awakened.
Arleb by Nabad – What are, according to you, the main challenges/obstacles facing artists and creative enterprises in Lebanon nowadays?
Elie Kesrouany – Economic crisis, low exposure and logistical difficulties are the main problems any creative enterprise or artist is facing. We are also dealing with a heavy depression due to extremely tough work environment. The challenges we are facing are not easy but also not impossible to beat. I have great faith in youth and the community despite what we have to go through on a daily basis.