The Metamorphosis After Franz Kafka: Healing through expression

The performance was designed to function as a cathartic art through which the performers would forego their stereotyped identities, becoming one with the collective audience.
by Salma Yassine

6 September 2019 | 20:38

Source: by Annahar

  • by Salma Yassine
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 6 September 2019 | 20:38

Photo from The Metamorphosis After Franz Kafka play

BEIRUT: “The Metamorphosis after Franz Kafka” is a play that awakens the latent turbulence within the human soul.

This raw performance speaks to the innermost fragile cruxes of the audience. It was put together based on the request of Goethe’s German Institute and the efforts of Scenario NGO. They have gathered young men and women from three different locations – El Abed Scouts from Shatila camp, INTERSOS, and a Lebanese orphanage.

The amateur performers wrote the play themselves. They showcased glimpses from real-life stories that they or their friends and acquaintances have encountered.

The play has been performed on a number of stages and was lately presented during MISHKAL Festival at Al Madina Theatre.

Victoria Lupton, the co-director of the play and Scenario NGO, told Annahar that “the performers feel inferior to a society that does not provide them with a safe space to exist. All they want is to be heard. Gregor Samsa [the main character in the play] is torn between two places and identities, and so are they.”

The performance was designed to function as a cathartic art through which the performers would forego their stereotyped identities, becoming one with the collective audience.

“These are our personal stories, they are live portrayals of our agonies. They tackle issues such as the Palestinians’ right to return, the Syrians’ shackled yearn to return to their home country, and the fragmented realities that orphans are forced to survive when faced with judgment,” Fatima Naeem, a performer, noted to Annahar.

She added that "our aim was to voice out our realities. The purpose behind this performance is to alter society’s impressions about the people belonging to marginalized social groups.”

The play withheld a plethora of art forms such as contemporary dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, and story-telling within the spectrum of a theatrical performance. 

This diversity in expression aided in rendering the performance one that demystifies the reality of those existing in its realm. It narrates the stories of young people caught in the whirlwind of change and deprivation; those who have been constantly judged and defined by their nationality, religion, and skin color. It also sheds light on marginalized factions such as domestic workers witnessing harsh experiences.

“I found the analogy between the Palestinian cause and the Syrian refugee crisis with Kafka’s Metamorphosis very unique and original. The book makes you contemplate abstract world notions, and when you see the play’s approach and comparison, you would realize that their cause is not unfamiliar at all,” Cecile Khoury, one of the audiences, said.

Much like the original story of Gregor Samsa, the play illustrates the transformation of Gregor from the one who puts food on the family table to the unemployed and abandoned human-being. 

"Theater is the only means of expression that enables us to narrate these stories freely. We rewrote, curated, and blended them with Kafka’s Metamorphosis in hope of change," Samer Zaher, a performer, told Annahar. "After all, art exists to make people feel something, and this effect should reach those in authority because they are the ones who usually reflect society’s image.”

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