BEIRUT: Twelve simultaneous scenes, twelve different locations, one play, one message: it is by time that we start protesting and asking for our basic human rights.
To mark the opening of MISHKAL’19, the eighth edition of the youth festival for all arts at Al Madina Theatre, Artistic Director Awad Awad brought to life a collaborative interactive promenade performance titled “Iza Al Sha’abu Yawman…,” which translates to “if the citizens ever…” in English.
“A promenade play is not site-specific, which means it transcends location boundaries to allow each scene to be performed in a different place,” Awad told Annahar.
In collaboration with a number of prominent performers, which included Nidal Al Ashkar, Mona Al Hallak, Joumana Haddad, Aliya Al Khalidi, Darine Chamseddine, Dima Mikhael Matta, Dana Dia, Nadra Assaf, Mira Sidawi, Mazen El Maouche, Maher Itani, Clown Me In, and Ferket Al Qirab; the performance was the first of its kind in the country.
“I envisioned this play to act as a relief for people,” Awad explained. “We are not usually given the chance to express ourselves freely; this performance intended to make people interact freely with various topics that get on their nerves through theater.”
The play took Hamra street back to its glory days. It started with 12 distinct opening scenes performed by each artist simultaneously in a different café.
Each of these artists addressed one or more of the issues that citizens face and struggle within their daily lives.
The 15 minutes act ended with a protest lead by each performer to Al Madina Theatre, where the performance was concluded.
“I chose to make the last scene an interaction between all those who marched with us and actors performing as political figures,” Awad said. “We hear the same exact speech over and over from politicians so I wanted to see what people would do if they were free to act and respond the way they want.”
Adding that “the point was to observe their free and real reactions in comparison to their socially bounded reactions when real political figures are talking.”
MISHKAL’s opening was followed by four festive days, from August 30 to September 3.
Starting each day at 5:30 and ending at 11 pm, the series of events drove to foster, develop, and encourage the city’s creative arts talents.
MISHKAL also gave a chance for fresh graduates, university students, and rising artists to exhibit their work and demonstrate their potentials.
Attendees noted that MISHKAL allows them to establish friendly relations with other aspiring artists, promote culture, and create positive public opinion.
Ever since its establishment, the cultural students’ series remains the only festival of its kind in the Arab region. It was able to reach its many attendees through its artistic expressions from theatre to film, music, dance, painting, and photography.
Tala Ramadan contributed to this article.
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