Syrian activists adopted the flying demonstration protest
form in 2011 during the Arab Spring. A flying demonstration
occurs for a few minutes, and then the demonstrators run away.
Protestors mainly chose this form to avoid deadly confrontations
with the regime’s secret police. This article examines how flying
demonstrations challenged the Syrian state’s media allegations
that no demonstrations were taking place. Action, spectatorship,
aftermath, and catharsis were key concepts from the theater and
performance fields that allowed Syrian activists to intensify the
demonstrations and achieve certainty, making flying demonstrations
a consistent phenomenon in the capital, Damascus. I analyze
the flying demonstrations theories brought from Richard Schechner’s
performance theory and Augusto Boal’s invisible theater.
Although demonstrators were not considering theater during their
protests, I conclude that flying demonstrations’ theatrical characteristics
were essential to making this phenomenon visually
compelling, encouraging more participation, and, to some extent,
guaranteeing safety during deadly Syrian events.
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