In São Paulo, theater by a Lebanese and a Palestinian
The city’s International Theater Festival will feature three plays by Lebanese director Rabih Mroué, and Palestine’s Ihab Zahdeh is coordinating a residency. The event begins on Tuesday (14).
São Paulo – Rabih Mroué, of Lebanon, and Ihab Zahdeh, of Palestine, will be some of the key figures in the São Paulo International Theater Festival (MITsp) beginning next Tuesday in São Paulo. Three of Mroué’s plays will be featured, and he will also teach a workshop. Zahdeh is coordinating a residency since the month began, and he will sit in a panel to discuss theater in Palestine.
The festival will last eight days, but some of its parallel activities, such as the residency, have already begun. Ten different plays will be featured, seven of them international and three Brazilian. They will be staged until March 21st at eight different venues across São Paulo. The program also includes seminars, book launches, performances, meetings with featured artists, etc.
MITsp curator for Educational Actions, Maria Fernanda Vomero, explains that the festival’s art director Antônio Araújo had long wanted to bring Mroué. “He’s an internationally known artist who’s in constant dialogue with reality, and not only Lebanon’s,” says Vomero. The artist lives in Berlin, Germany, but remains attached to the issues of the Middle East and Lebanon, according to the curator.
One of Rabih Mroué’s featured plays is “Pixelated Revolution,” a performance-lecture about the documentation, on cell phones and social media, of the outbreak of Syrian War. He points out how photos and videos kept the people involved and informed. The play will be staged on March 15 and 16, 9pm at Vila Mariana.
Another of Mroué’s plays is “So Little Time,” which opens with the director’s wife Lina Majdalanie on a dark, near-vacant stage with a box of photographs of a martyr. She speaks of prisoner exchanges, the mortal remains of soldiers, and a fictional Islamic martyr. The play is an exploration of the connection between personal identification and public war memorials. It will be featured on March 14 and 15, 7pm at Sesc Vila Mariana.
The third play directed by Rabih is “Riding on a Cloud,” featuring his brother, the actor Yasser Mroué, who plays a role not unlike himself. Wounded during the Lebanese civil war, he began making videos of his memoirs. The play is a delicate biography interspersed with political reality. It will be staged at Sesc Vila Mariana on March 17 and 18, at 7pm, and on March 19 at 6pm.
Mroué’s workshop will be a creative, artistic take on images that portray our current history, according to Vomero. In attendance will be 20 selected actors, directors, academicians, photographers, filmmakers and journalists. The work builds on images of Brazilian reality, especially of the movements for and against the president’s impeachment, which came to pass last year. Vomero chose the pictures and sent them to Rabih.
Since March 2, Palestine’s Ihab Zahdeh is coordinating an artist residency program for 12 actors, musicians and singers. Every year, MITsp invites a different artist to do this. No plays by these artists are staged. The festival’s overarching theme for this year is “Creative Resistance.” When the event’s art director asked Vomero for someone who symbolizes the theme, it occurred to her immediately that it should be a Palestinian. The curator sat in for the first few workshop sessions, and said the attendees are very curious about the scenario in Palestine today.
Ihab will also join the panel “Theater in Palestine: politics-art connections,” along with the Chilean-born artist of Palestinian descent Andrea Giadah, and Vomero, who’s also a researcher in Performing Arts and an activist. The meeting will be moderated by Ferdinando Martins on March 18, 3pm at the USP Theater.
Mroué and Zahdeh are both prominent in the international theater scene. Mroué works with theater, performance and video, and his work is known to straddle the boundaries of fiction and documentary, imagination and manipulation. Conflicts throughout the Middle East, and especially in Lebanon, are a mainstay of his. Mroué is a cofounder of the Beirut Art Center and the director of the Münchner Kammerspiele theater in Germany.
Zahdeh is a cofounder and artistic director of the Yes Theatre, in Hebron. A director, actor and playwright, he has been involved in several international workshops, courses and tours. He also spent a few months in Japan as a guest of the Tokyo Engeki Ensemble, which led to a staging of the show ‘Mirror.’
The MITsp is held on an annual basis since 2014, the brainchild of Antônio Araújo and Guilherme Marques. Marques is the event’s general production director. The goal of the festival is to provide an overview of the latest developments in the performing arts worldwide, including plays and pressing societal issues. This year’s edition is a partnership with the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, Banco Itaú and Sesc SP, plus several sponsors and supporters.
4th São Paulo International Theater Festival (MITsp)
March 14 to 21, 2017
Ten plays and 83 educational actions
Additional information and full program: http://mitsp.org/2017/
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum