Nedjelja, 3 Decembra, 2023
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Web site-Particular and Devised Theatre in Lebanon


And I don’t know why. It was in my unconscious thoughts. I by no means actually remembered it once more. It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t one thing I used to be engaged on, however I used to be like—I don’t know why—I stated, “Oh, my God, prisoners, what would prisoners be feeling at this second?” As a result of I felt I’m a prisoner myself, oppressed and every part. And I stated, “Oh, I’m right here sitting in my pajama. I really feel I’m a prisoner myself. If I'm feeling I’m a prisoner myself, how would these inmates who're inside these prisons…?”

So positively they have been the final on the agenda in a rustic coping with struggle, et cetera, et cetera. And I stated, “Okay, as quickly as this struggle is over, I’m going to do theatre inside these prisons.” It got here—I can’t clarify it additional. It got here whereas I used to be in the identical pajama for 30 days. And as quickly because the struggle was over, craziest factor, that I'm going to the decisionmakers. And I say, “I do know you’re busy coping with many issues on this nation, however how about doing theatre inside prisons?” And I used to be receiving positively a no.

They usually known as me, “You’re loopy. Do you see the place the nation is heading? Do you see what we…?” I stated, “Sure. And it’s as a result of I noticed this, and I felt with these inmates way more than ever. I wish to go inside and do remedy.” And voila, it took a 12 months and a half to construct this complete factor receiving no’s repeatedly and repeatedly. And in the event you inform me what was my motivation again then? I can’t inform you as a result of now in the event you inform me do it once more, I’d say, “I’d be loopy to do what I’ve carried out in 2007 and 2008.” Voila. And it’s solely once I went inside and found what they wish to say and the entire oppression round prisons in Lebanon, that I understood the deeper which means of those visits that I used to be doing. I by no means knew something about our penal code. It was a complete discovery. I by no means knew that we had no discount of sentences for good habits. I didn’t know earlier than placing meals there that it was so overcrowded, and also you see it in your eyes, that it was so overcrowded. And also you simply carry on discovering.

And for me, I imply, that is Lebanon. You wish to know Lebanon go inside its prisons. And voila. I stated, “If we will begin doing one thing there, maybe we will begin altering the penal code.” And that is what occurred afterward. We had the discount of sentences after 12 Offended Lebanese. Then, Scheherazade in Baabda helped lots in having the regulation for cover from home violence that wasn’t introduced by Catharsis in any respect. It was introduced by one other NGO known as KAFA. And lots of NGOs have been engaged on it, however we made positive to have each single decisionmaker come to jail and watch this play and signal this draft move, and it occurred in 2014.

And voila, that is how… However you inform me like, “Zeina, you had this undertaking. You had this. Why did you select to do the site-specific work again then?” I had no thought the place it’s going to steer me. I didn’t know even that inmates in Lebanon aren't allowed to exit and carry out inside a theatre. I used to be so naive. I stated, “Oh, let’s do theatre inside and possibly we’ll take them in a bus to theatre Al Madina,” and folks would come and watch them on this, identical to in Italy, as a result of in Italy they exit and so they carry out exterior.

All of it got here on the bottom. And I beloved it. I imply, after the primary undertaking that was 12 Offended Lebanese, I stated, “Oh, my God, it needs to be very site-specific. It has all the opposite place I might do…could be… not the copy-paste of what occurred however needs to be in an analogous format as a result of the primary format was… It simply labored for them, for us, for the viewers, for the decisionmakers. So, wow! Voila.

Nabra: Yeah, it’s fascinating to consider additionally in some conditions site-specific theatre is a necessity. It needs to be in that house. It’s not at all times a alternative, which is totally vital to recollect.

Marina: Sahar, do you might have something so as to add?

Sahar: I imply, my boundaries are much less fascinating than Zeina’s boundaries. Simply to say it, wanting again, I really feel in some conditions the dearth of theatrical or theatre infrastructure on the American College of Beirut, the place I used to be working and producing the vast majority of my reveals, led me in some ways to suppose website particular, led me to that type of route. Within the story that Zeina shared, I really feel there’s some magic there. And I take advantage of this phrase for the dearth of discovering a greater phrase, however I keep in mind just like the play we did in Khandaq al-Ghamiq. Talking about boundaries, I needed to take round seven permissions from totally different workplaces and entities just like the [Directorate General of Antiquities]—as a result of there was a website that we have been utilizing that had a be aware from [Antiquities] on it, the municipality of Beirut, the censorship workplace, the police depart— So all these. And it, for some cause, once more, we have been in a position to obtain all these permissions in lower than a month. And looking out again, I used to be like, “How did that occur?” I don’t know. After all, we needed to take permissions from homeowners of the places who don’t dwell there anymore and who I discovered in actually bizarre, serendipitous, or bizarre coincidences actually.

However typically, I really feel like, sure, the dearth of infrastructure compelled me to suppose in a approach, pushed me to suppose exterior of the field. Once more, to present one other instance in 2015, 2016, the American College of Beirut was celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. And I needed to do one thing on the event. And I used to be like, “What's it that I’m on the lookout for, actually, the subject material of the efficiency?” And I remembered, and I believed in regards to the staff, the janitors, mainly as a result of I felt like we’re celebrating everybody. For girls, I did myself a celebration, like a reenactment of speeches by girls who [were] early feminists [in the] Twenties or whatnot.

And other people have been celebrating college students and professors and buildings and every part. However I used to be like, “Okay, the place are we celebrating the janitors?” So, I made a decision to do this. Clearly, I began by interviewing the employees as a result of I don’t have materials aside from that. So, I knew that the present can be a documentary, could have a documentary course of. Will probably be primarily based on verbatim interviews with the employees, the janitors, however I didn’t know the way it’s going to [or] the place it’s going to occur.

I used to be pondering possibly we’ll simply put their tales in one of many auditoriums on campus. After which through the course of, I used to be realizing that might be actually inappropriate; it received’t really feel genuine. And I made a decision that the efficiency goes to be a day within the lifetime of the janitors. So, audiences would arrive. We verify them in on the location the place the janitors check-in. We give them outfits, proper? They placed on the outfit, after which we give them the instruments. And we’re like, “In your approach, that is going to be your hour and a half on campus,” after which they go. There’s a scene that occurs in a rest room whereas the audiences are cleansing bogs. You may suppose it’s loopy, however individuals play alongside. It’s beautiful how individuals play alongside. And as they’re doing that, they're encountering totally different elements of the janitor’s life.

So, they’re studying about their goals. They’re studying about their households, about their aspirations. The efficiency had a really technical facet to it. You actually have been instructing you the job. So, we’re instructing you how one can clear a rest room. We’re instructing you what chemical compounds to make use of. However then really, we’re additionally telling you that this particular person right here, his dream is to turn into a singer. This particular person right here writes poetry. This particular person right here has a household. Her husband has most cancers. She needed to work to love, you realize, and so forth. So, sure, the boundaries do push you to suppose in site-specific phrases. However once more, if it doesn’t serve the story, it’s not value it. So, I really feel there’s each of this stuff in it.

Marina: Wow. I imply, it appears like such a beautiful piece. And thanks for speaking in regards to the boundaries, but additionally simply actually ensuring that every piece is important of why it’s occurring and the place it’s occurring, and the way these issues are talking to one another. You each accomplish that a lot and are artists in such full senses of the phrase, however how would you describe your self as an artist? We positively didn’t sum up all your work right here at this time. What are different issues which have outlined or formed your artistic follow?

Zeina: Marina, at instances I’m misplaced. If I'm an artist, if I'm a therapist, if I'm a policeman, if I'm an activist, if I'm… Currently, for instance, in Lebanon, within the Keserwan space the place I dwell, it’s the area. They needed me additionally to run for elections as a result of elections are coming. And I began laughing as a result of I’m undecided anymore. What I began as a theatre… Particularly, I wish to do theatre, then got here to drama remedy. Then I stated, “Okay, yalla, it’s good to do drama remedy.”

Then I stated, “Okay, why not? Let’s do some legal guidelines.” And then you definately do some legal guidelines. You find yourself staying within the parliament with these decisionmakers, doing different issues, consuming espresso, speaking in regards to the solar and the climate for them to work and pushing them. And then you definately foyer for issues. How would I describe the myself as an artist? At instances I neglect that I'm an artist. At instances, I do keep in mind that I'm an artist, particularly when I'm within the phases of manufacturing the play. And that is the very best factor; I love doing it. However then, once more, you inform me once you’re drafting legal guidelines to vary the penal code, I might inform you, “Oh, my God, I really like doing this additionally.” And then you definately inform me, when a draft regulation is completed, and you've got lobbied and, “Oh, my God, How I'm comfortable to do it!” I’m undecided. And at instances, I miss one over the opposite; then, I miss the opposite over one. And I’m a therapist so I've this clinic, and I do these particular person drama remedy periods. So maybe to reply your query, all of this stuff do outline and do form my artistic follow. As a result of in the event you inform me I’m doing solely certainly one of them, I inform you, I may be completely lifeless of boredom.

I imply, if I used to be simply an artist calling myself, “I’m an artist.” If I used to be proud of that, I feel I might have continued doing this with out the entire therapeutic, self-regulatory performances, and the legal guidelines, and activism for the nation. But in addition, I’d say if I solely what I wish to do is draft legal guidelines and alter legal guidelines, let me run for elections, which I’m not going to do now as a result of I wish to be an artist too. So maybe my artistic follow comes with an entire baggage of activism and issues. And if it wasn’t like this, I don’t suppose I might name myself an artist maybe. Maybe, in a [month] I’d reply otherwise. I do not know. Sahar, go forward.

Sahar: I find it irresistible, Zeina. That is good. I’m going to make use of your phrases as a result of me too, I actually, I don’t consider myself by way of like, “I’m an artist.” I do suppose I’m a theatremaker. A lot of the days, I feel I’m a theatremaker. What defines and form my artistic course of as a theatremaker is definitely the a part of the historical past and the journey that I needed to embark on to be a theatremaker. I grew up in a conservative society, and my father, bless his soul, wasn’t satisfied that performing is a good and correct profession for a [woman]. So, I ended up learning journalism, and I loved lots the investigative reporting facet of journalism. After which I used to be misplaced for a while to place a protracted story quick. So, I ended up learning sociology as a [master’s] diploma. After which I went on and labored in these fields for a while. Earlier than I got here again to the research theatre, I used to be doing theatre all alongside. Proper? However I needed to turn into actually an expert. I used to be pondering solely a level would make me an expert as a result of in Lebanon, you get remoted a bit of bit, a minimum of my feeling in my expertise, in the event you haven’t studied particularly at Lebanese College theatre, you'd really feel a bit of remoted.

And I used to be like, “Oh, I have to get myself a level so that individuals may take me critically.” After which I did that. And I really feel like there are residues at this time in my theatre work from each journalism and sociology, which I really like. And I’m grateful for my father actually to simply say, “No, don’t do performing,” as a result of it led me to this actually not an easy path to changing into a theatremaker. So at this time, I’m principally fascinated by documentary type of theatre work. Theatre that's primarily based on private tales and private histories. It actually conjures up me. It actually drives me. And I really feel like… The best way I decide tales or topic issues or individuals to interview is at all times pushed by one thing that impacts me, one thing that actually strikes me as a human being, as a girl. In order that’s what I can say in response to that query.

Marina: So fantastic. Sensible solutions from good girls. Oh, I’m simply so grateful to spend this time speaking with each of you. Thanks a lot for sharing this time and house with us this morning.

Zeina: Thanks! Thanks!

Nabra: You each are so inspirational. Thanks a lot. It’s so beautiful to lastly be on this room with you.

Sahar: Thanks each for having us. And it’s at all times nice to be in the identical house with Zeina, I've to say.

Zeina: Sahar, I miss you!

Sahar: I miss you too.

Zeina: Thanks, Nabra. Thanks, Marina.

Sahar: Thanks, Nabra and Marina.

Marina: Thanks a lot for having tea with us. This has been one other episode of Kunafa and Shay. We’re your hosts, Marina and Nabra. This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. You will discover extra episodes of this collection and different HowlRound podcasts in our feed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you discover podcasts.

Nabra: Make sure to search HowlRound Theatre Commons podcasts and subscribe to obtain new episodes. When you beloved this podcast, put up a ranking and write a overview on these platforms. This helps different individuals discover us. You can even discover a transcript for this episode, together with loads of progressive and disruptive content material on

Marina: Have an thought for an thrilling podcast essay or TV occasion the theatre group wants to listen to? Go to and submit your concepts to the commons.

Nabra: We hope you tune in subsequent time. Thanks for becoming a member of us on Kunafa and Shay.

Marina and Nabra: Yalla, bye!



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