BEIRUT: The Monot Theater was packed on Monday to attend the performance of “Shabah” or “Ghost,” a play that deals with the universal theme of death and the living's sentiments of mourning and regret.
The play is the first production for the group “Homemade Theater” that offers a variety of theater workshops for both professionals and beginners. Workshop attendees learn the craft of play production under the direct supervision of director Shady Al Haber and actress Maya Sebaali.
The dream of Homemade Theater’s production team is for Lebanon to have theater plays that are accessible to everyone and that are a “part of the daily lives of the Lebanese.”
The play kicks off with a ghost, fully dressed in a black robe, performing burial rituals in a dimly lit atmosphere. The light then goes off and four women dressed in black appear sitting grimly, each seemingly lost in thought.
The first woman stands up and starts screaming and banging on a coffin placed in the middle of the stage, frantically and bitterly wailing over her dead mother.
The woman then expresses how her mother was neither kind nor loving towards her. Instead, she always made her feel bad about herself and spread negativity around her.
Turns out, the deceased mother had urged her daughter to get married the moment she turned 18, and she had thrown household duties onto her and abandoned her with the responsibility of taking care of her younger siblings.
“In a moment, a ghost stole my mother from me, but this is life,” she said matter-of-factly without a hint of sympathy.
A young man then appears on stage, and one of the ladies rushes to his embrace, and they reunite passionately. However, he brings the terrible news that he has to leave her, claiming that it’s in her best interest.
One lady wails and expresses her hate for the ghost that wouldn’t even give her time with her beloved.
“No one is allowed to cry over his dead body, but me,” says another lady as she gets up and stands next to the coffin. She bids farewell to her son who died one week after returning to Lebanon from Africa where he was working.
The grieving mother is in denial and blames the ghost for stealing her son from her hands the second he came back to her open arms.
An older, well-dressed lady stands and heartbreakingly expresses her misery at the clock that’s ticking in her face before she had even accomplished her goals.
Her body is failing her, and the wrinkles on her face seem to deepen by the second. She accuses the ghost of taking away her beauty, strength, and time, and expresses her jealousy of the younger girls that have “their lives stretched in front of them.”
The actors and actresses then perform a ritual dance, and chant the importance of savoring every moment with our beloved, because the ghost will come at any second and take our beloved ones away from us.
The play premiered on April 6, and it will be available on April 14 in Monot Theater, Rue de l'Université Saint-Joseph, Beirut. Tickets can be purchased at Librairie Antoine.
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