Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwarts—a Short Play

7 June, 2024

Lameece Issaq

 

SETTING: A bombed-out house in Aleppo, Syria.
TIME: The present.
CHARACTERS:
*NOOR — a 10 year old girl. Sentimental and protective.

*HADI — Noor’s younger brother, a boy of 8. Cynical and intelligent.

*To be played by young adults in their 20s. No need to pretend to be children. Simple choices are best. No accents. Noor does not wear a hijab, although they are Muslim.


NOOR AND HADI GO TO HOGWARTS

Black. A projection appears on the back wall of the stage:

A Tweet from seven year-old Syrian girl, Bana Alabad, which reads: “Under heavy bombardments now. In between life and death. Please keep praying for us. #Aleppo.”

LIGHTS UP on NOOR, 10, and her brother HADI, 8, surrounded by rubble, in what was once their living room. Vestiges of the room are still in tact here and there — half a table; a legless chair; a telephone receiver. Both children are covered in dust; HADI’s head is wrapped in bloodied gauze, his vision impaired from the bombing. He wears an old school digital watch. NOOR is in a wheelchair, numb from the waist down. A dust-covered doll with a bandage over her eyes sits beside her.
NOOR reads to HADI from an old, miraculously functioning laptop. It is plugged into an old car battery, powered, also miraculously, by solar panels in the partially remaining roof. It really all is miraculous.

NOOR

“Harry looked at him, startled; the idea that anything as normal as a wedding could still exist seemed incredible and yet wonderful. ‘Yeah, we shouldn’t miss that,’ he said finally. In spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort -”

HADI

Voldemort is a little bit Assad, a little bit ISIS and a little bit Trump, don’t you think?

NOOR

Sshh! “…in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.” The End.

(NOOR closes the laptop. A brief pause as they take in the ending of the story.)

HADI

He’ll never beat him. Voldemort.

NOOR

Don’t be stupid.

HADI

He’s too powerful. Evil always wins.

NOOR

Spoiler! Harry kills him in the final book!

HADI

Well. That’s not very realistic.

NOOR

I wish Dumbledore didn’t die.

HADI

Everyone dies.

NOOR

Not great wizards! Great wizards are NOT SUPPOSED TO DIE!

HADI

Everyone. Even great wizards. I’m going to die and you’re going to die, just like Mama died and Baba died and Yousef died.

NOOR

Some people get out. Some people get saved.

HADI

For a ten year old, you’re really naive, Noor. Grow up.

NOOR

Bana got out. Bana and her family were saved!

HADI

Bana got lucky. She got out because she’s a Twitter celebrity. Only famous people get saved. Psht. Stupid Bana.

(mocking)

“I’m in Turkey and I’m so happy! Look at me with the Turkish president and Lindsey Lohan! Hashtag Aleppo, hashtag save the children!” I hate Bana!

NOOR

Don’t say that! Bana is my best friend!

HADI

If she was your best friend, she would have taken you with her out of this hellscape!

NOOR

She’s going to America and I am going to meet her there!

HADI

No one is going to America! Not you, not Bana, not anyone! I hate Bana!

NOOR

Shut up! Shut up, Hadi! If it wasn’t for Bana, we wouldn’t have any of these books! These are the very e-books that J.K. Rowling sent to Bana herself! The author of the entire Harry Potter universe personally went out of her way to gift my best friend Bana with one of the most beloved children’s series OF ALL TIME, and then my best friend Bana, re-gifted them to ME! And it is because of this generosity that we have been able to survive the most wretched event of our young lives!

(pause)

HADI

Fair point.

NOOR

Thank you.

HADI

Book seven?

NOOR

Yes.

(NOOR opens the laptop, clicks on something and begins to read.)

NOOR

“We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. By JK Rowling.”

(she clears her throat)

HADI

Wait.

NOOR

What?

HADI

It’s the last book?

NOOR

Yeah.

HADI

Oh.
Ok.

(NOOR goes back to the screen. She scrolls up a bit.)

NOOR

Ok…we can skip that, and that…

HADI

No. No, no, no. Don’t skip anything.

NOOR

Well — it’s just like quotes from poets and dedications and boring stuff. It’s not the story —

HADI

I don’t care. Read it.

NOOR

Why?

HADI

Just — because —

NOOR

No —

HADI

Read it! Read it!

NOOR

Hadi —

HADI

We have to make the book last as long as possible! It’s the last one! Just read it!

NOOR

Fine.

(she goes back to the screen and scolls up.)

Um…ok, here. This is a poem by…I don’t know how to pronounce his name.

HADI

Read, read.

NOOR

“Oh, the torment bred in the race, the grinding scream of death, and the stroke that hits the vein, the hemorrhage none can staunch, the grief, the curse no man can bear. But there is a curse in the house, and not outside it no, not from others but from them, their bloody strife. We sing to you, dark gods beneath the earth. Now hear, you blissful powers underground, answer the call, send help. Bless the children, give them triumph now.”

(Pause. NOOR looks at HADI.)

HADI

Yeah, skip that stuff.

NOOR

Thank you.

(reading quickly)

“Chapter One: The Dark Lord Ascending.”

HADI

Slow down! God!

NOOR

Sorry!

(reading very, very slowly) “Chapter One: The Dark Lord Ascending.”

HADI

You are so annoying.

(The computer screen goes black.)

NOOR

No. No, no, no.

(NOOR clicks on the laptop several times.)

HADI

Yeah, you really are.

NOOR

Oh come on.

HADI

What?

NOOR

Nothing, nothing.

(NOOR bangs on the laptop. She checks the plug and pulls it out and puts it back in again. She closes the laptop and opens it up several times.)

HADI

Alright, come on! Let’s go!

NOOR

Uh…yeah – ok, just a sec…I just…the book is uh, just taking a minute to load…

(NOOR rolls herself over to the car battery, into which the computer is plugged. She fidgets with it. Nothing. The computer is out of electricity, and the electricity source is now dead. The following dialogue takes place during this entire sequence.)

HADI

Yeah, well, that computer is ancient. I can’t believe it survived the blast. Sturdy as fuck.

NOOR

Hadi!

HADI

What?

NOOR

Don’t curse.

HADI

Why not?

God will punish you.

HADI

(indicating his surroundings)

Um…

(NOOR has given up on the laptop and sets it down.)

NOOR

You know what? Let’s read a little later. Prolong it a bit.

HADI

Ok.

NOOR

You hungry?

HADI

A little.

NOOR

I have pistachios.

(NOOR wheels herself over to Hadi and gives him a handful. They eat and toss the shells onto the ground.)

HADI

I wish I could go to Hogwarts.

NOOR

You’re too young. You have to be 11. You’re only 8.

HADI

They would make an exception for me because of my latent genius. Also because they’re short on Syrians and want to show the world how open-minded and not xenophobic they are. You know, ‘cause of Brexit.

(NOOR laughs)

HADI

And I would become the member of the Slytherin House —

NOOR

What? Ew!

HADI

I just think they are generally the more interesting group. They get a bad wrap, but they’re capable of great things. Also, I want to speak Parcel Mouth.

NOOR

You want to speak to snakes? That’s creepy.

HADI

I think speaking to snakes would come in handy in these parts. I could stage all kinds of attacks on ISIS — like order a million pythons to charge at them and suffocate them all to death! And on Assad and all the Russians and everyone! Death by snake!

NOOR

Don’t be violent, Hadi.

HADI

I can’t help it. It’s all I know.

NOOR

We have to use our magic for good and only good, habibi.

(a beat.)

HADI

Do you think anyone will come for us, Noor?

NOOR

Of course they will. Someone will come.

HADI

I’m scared.

NOOR

Me too.

HADI

Ok, don’t get mad but.

NOOR

What?

HADI

Just don’t get mad.

I won’t — what?

HADI

Well…alot of people thought Bana was fake.

NOOR

Don’t say that. I hate when people say that.

HADI

Like they thought she was made up. Like by the rebels.

NOOR

I know.

HADI

And people investigated where she lived to make sure she was actually Tweeting from Aleppo. They checked her geocoordinates. Her geocoordinates!

NOOR

Stop saying geocoordinates.

HADI

I’m just saying. Do you think that’s why?

NOOR

Why what?

HADI

Why no one is helping us? Why no one wants us? Because they think we’re not real?

NOOR

They know we’re real. I think they’re just scared.

HADI

Of what? Of us? We’re just kids. We are all mostly kids.

(HADI’s watch beeps several times. He stops it. He reaches behind his back and pulls out a long, thin item wrapped in newspaper.)

HADI

Happy Birthday!

NOOR

Oh my God! I totally forgot! Wait — what day is it? Are you sure it’s today?

HADI

Yup! I’ve been keeping track of the days on my watch since the bombing. It beeps every hour. And this is the 48th beep. So, Happy Birthday.

NOOR

I forgot all about it…

(Hadi stands up and hands her the gift.)

HADI

Open it.

(NOOR takes and unwraps it. It is a TV antenna, wrapped in copper coil.)

HADI

It’s —

A wand.

NOOR

A wand.

HADI

Yep.

NOOR

It’s beautiful. Thank you, habibi.

HADI

You’re 11 now. You can officially be admitted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

NOOR

I wish I could use this to go to America.

HADI

You’ll have more luck getting into a fictional school of magic.

(Hadi puts his hand to his head.)

NOOR

Are you ok? Hadi?

HADI

I don’t feel very good.

Sit here, by me.

(Hadi sits on the ground next to NOOR’s chair and puts his head in her lap. He is fading.)

NOOR

Hadi? Hadi, are you ok?

HADI

Read to me.

NOOR

Ok. Ok, um —

(she picks up the laptop and plugs it in. She taps on the tracking pad several times in a panic. The computer won’t budge.)

HADI

Noor…read to me…please…

NOOR

Ok, habibi, I am — here we go. Stay with me, Hadi. Stay with me —

(NOOR taps the tracking pad harder and more urgently as Hadi fades further away.)

NOOR

Come on. Work. Work! Please —

HADI

Noor, read…

(NOOR looks at the wand. She taps the computer several times with it.)

NOOR

Please…please…please.

(Nothing.)

Hadi? Hadi, wake up.

(Hadi moans. NOOR whacks the computer hard with the wand.)

NOOR

Come ON!

(The computer suddenly flickers back on, the blue light illuminating NOOR’s face.)

NOOR

Hadi? Hadi! Don’t leave me…

(She gently strokes his hair.)

HADI

I’m here. Read to me, Noor.

(She breathes a sigh of relief.)

NOOR

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling. Chapter One.” BLACKOUT.

END OF PLAY.

 

Lameece Issaq is an actor and writer and co-founder/former artistic director of the Obie Award -winning company Noor Theatre. Lameece has narrated over 80 books, most recently The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, for which she won an Audiophile Earphones Award. She has appeared in several regional and off-Broadway productions, including The Fever Chart and Stuff Happens (Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Ensemble) at the Public Theatre, The Black Eyed at New York Theatre Workshop and Noura at The Old Globe, among several others. She’s written various short plays produced in The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival; as well as short plays Noor & Hadi Go to Hogwarts (Theater Breaking Through Barriers, Golden Thread Theater); Orb Weaver (24/6) and Nooha’s List, part of the compilation play, Motherhood Outloud (Hartford Stage, The Geffen and Primary Stages). Her full length play Food and Fadwa (2011 recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award) premiered off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in a production she co-produced and starred in, and in which Variety magazine praised her performance as “stunning.” Food and Fadwa was a part of the Arab Voices Festival in both Abu Dhabi and Beirut and was published in the anthology “Contemporary Plays By Women of Color,” second edition. She co-wrote the feature film Abe, directed by Fernando Grostein Andrade, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She starred in her most recent play, A Good Day to Me Not to You, which premiered off-Broadway at the Connelly Theater in 2023 and was produced by Waterwell and Plate Spinner Productions. The play was developed at Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, The Cape Cod Theatre Project, Noor Theatre, and Theatre Aspen’s Solo Flights Festival. Lameece is a member of AEA and SAG AFTRA. 2016 NYFA Finalist in Playwriting/Screenwriting. www.lameeceissaq.com

 

AleppoHarry PotterJK RowlingSyriaSyrian war

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