A turntable sits on a stack of amplifiers, an ensemble that evokes the pre-CD hi-fi era. A telephone is on the floor. A bulky television. Books are scattered about. A laptop and printer, a mobile phone in its charger. Behind looms the wide screen. This performance is void of any actors.
In their semi-documentary work, Rabih Mroué and Lina Saneh reconstruct the final moments of a person’s life. A young Lebanese man takes his own life, and in a farewell letter, declares that his reasons are personal and have nothing to do with politics. The young man is dead but everything lives on, vibrating and communicating in his bedroom: the television, the answering machine, the computer…. Time pauses and begins anew; history is pieced together—never constructed, of course—from so many fragments of communication. This performance is void of any actors.
This performance is presented in conjunction with Thomas Keenan’s talk New Media, New Documents.
Rabih Mroué is a Lebanese actor, director, and playwright. Winner of the 2010 Spalding Gray Award, his storytelling pits facts against made-up truths and propaganda that are imbued with a peculiar sense of humor and a visual sensibility honed from years as a visual artist. By means of a semi-documentary style theater, Mroué’s often controversial work draws attention to issues and events that have been swept under the rug in the current political climate of the Middle East.
Linah Saneh is a theater maker who collaborates with Rabih Mroué and writes and directs her own works of theater and video. In her earlier works, Saneh focused on physical theater as a way of addressing how our bodies are imprinted by sociopolitical conflicts and contradictions in the Middle East. Her current multimedia artworks, performing arts, and video works interrogate the status of our citizenship and our position in public spaces, and raise the possibility of creating a new political liberation. She is an assistant professor at the Institut d’Etudes Séniques et Audiovisuelles at the Saint-Joseph University in Beirut and at the Saint-Esprit University in Kaslik.
Co-produced by Ashkal Alwan, the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts (Beirut), Festival d’Avignon, Festival delle Colline Torinesi (Turin), Kampnagel (Hamburg), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), La Bâtie – Festival de Genève, Malta Festival (Poznan), Scène Nationale de Petit-Quevilly/Mont-Saint-Aignan (Rouen), Stage – Helsinki Theatre Festival, Théâtre de l’Agora – Scène Nationale d’Evry et de l’Essonne, and Steirischer Herbst.
“They are to Beirut what the Wooster Group is to New York: a blend of avant-garde innovation, conceptual complexity and political urgency, all grounded in earthy humor” – The New York Times