BY TESSA AYSON
The Museum of Innocence is located in the Çukurçuma neighbourhood of Istanbul, Turkey, conceived of in tandem with its eponymous novel by Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk. It is set up across three floors, each no larger than a few small feet wide and a few tall people long. The objects are organized into exactly eighty-three boxes, which correspond to the eighty-three chapters of the novel. This novel spans eight years of obsessive love, charting protagonist Kemal’s ruminations on the nature of life and love. He falls in love with his cousin, Füsun, but their relationship is doomed before it even begins; Kemal is engaged to another woman. He breaks off the wedding, loses Füsun as well, and spends the next eight years pilfering items from Füsun’s family household where he eats dinner every night with her family.
The objects that Kemal collects ward off the profound melancholy that threatens to overwhelm him, and he is able to take solace in their comforting aroma and touch, knowing that Füsun has touched the very same surfaces. “Sometimes I would see [the objects] not as mementos of the blissful hours but as the tangible precious debris of the storm raging in my soul,” Kemal tells the reader, whom he addresses personally throughout the novel. Eventually he wins Füsun back, only to watch her die in a fatal car crash a few short weeks later. The novel culminates in Kemal’s hiring of Orhan Pamuk to carry out the museum project that is to commemorate Füsun.
The Museum’s collection could well have been curated by a nighttime spirit ransacking the pages of the novel, making away with the objects described within its pages and depositing them in the tiny, tottering, nondescript family apartment that is the home of the collection. There is something unearthly in the still air of the Museum; excessive noise is discouraged, and the objects hang in their boxes, dangling from invisible string, suspended in time and space. The Museum itself seems similarly suspended, tucked away mere minutes from the sensory-pummeling madness that is Istaklal Caddesi. Lilting Turkish and stilted English, wafting smells of roasted chestnuts, the clicking of shutters and noisy people doing noisy things in noisy excitement – all of this explosive, living energy subsides as you step off the street and into the Museum.
Through the novel’s expansion into the spatial realm, these eight years of longing are marked not through days but through objects, and by endowing the objects with the ability to track the movement of time itself, Pamuk gives them a unique power. Through the displays we learn that time is nothing more than a way of charting change in form – form of objects as well as living things. The constancy and stillness of the collection is therefore all the more haunting, a beautiful illustration of the suspension of time that Kemal endures throughout his separation from Füsun, his lost love.
The absolute ordinariness of the objects, the cigarette butts, tickets, and jewelry that comprise the exhibits, is the focal point of their magic. The objects expand beyond the realm of the novel into real life, disrupting our awareness of real versus fantasy. Imagine your favourite book being made into a film. Seeing the words lifted off their page, entering a three-dimensional space, becoming concrete, solid visual images, is always a disconcerting feeling. Now imagine that same feeling, but with the objects there—right in front of you, not separated by the mediation of cinema.
In his accompanying museum catalogue, Pamuk discusses the “massacre of objects” in Turkey that occurred as society’s focus in the mid twentieth century shifted towards Western ideals and the remnants of its Ottoman past were destroyed, leaving behind an “eerie emptiness”. For Pamuk this massacre is a societal and cultural threat; because of his belief in objects’ spiritual importance, the massacre effectively destroyed a large portion of Turkish history. Istanbul was once the centre of the mighty Ottoman Empire, the East and West combining to augment its might. But the same east-west fusion that previously made Istanbul so powerful now seems to be working against it. Istanbul is balanced on the geographical divide between Europe and Asia, teetering like a tightrope walker on dotted map lines.
The sense of melancholy that resulted from the dissolve of this empire encompasses all of Turkish society, Pamuk argues, and is manifest in the resolute solitude of the objects. They are neither Eastern nor Western, but very specifically Turkish. Raki, the national alcohol, is displayed, as well as çay, the ubiquitous national tea. There are Turkish newspaper articles and photos; one particularly powerful box shows a collage of images, seventy or eighty newspaper pictures of women with black bands over their eyes to conceal their identity. If a man tried to escape marrying a girl he slept with, her furious father would take the unfortunate male to court and the press would publish the poor girl’s photo with the concealing band so as not to besmirch her honor. The same band was used for prostitutes, adulteresses, and rape victims. Pamuk uses this piece to illustrate the terrifying complexities of dating in 1970’s Turkey – put a foot wrong, and end up as another lost identity in the masquerade of hidden faces.
The Museum’s displays elucidate the subtle beauty that exists within the ordinariness of everyday life, the banality of newspapers and food and drink and odd family photos that do not belong to Pamuk. In a curious parallel to the novel, where Kemal pilfered objects that belonged to others, Pamuk acquired many of the objects that form the collection from the tiny antique stores around the Çukurçuma neighborhood. These oases are magical in themselves; they are crammed to bursting with tottering remnants of the past, curated by tiny old men drinking sweet tea. Dust forms a thick barrier between the past and the present, coating every surface and permeating the air itself with the thick smell of ageing. These stores are a treasure trove of Turkish identities hoarded by quiet shop owners. You can buy someone’s jewellery, cutlery; even their personal family album, peeling black-and white photos stuck onto thick, cracked pages. Pamuk has made full use of this eerie transplanting of identity, appropriating the possessions of unknown people to tell a story that necessarily becomes the story of a much larger social context.
The objects perfectly encapsulate the city’s split soul. They are quintessentially Turkish, and therefore draw upon the influence of the East and the West as well as something else that is defined by Istanbul alone. Wandering the neighboring districts of Istanbul is an utterly bewildering experience. In less than a minute of traversing cracked pavements, all the sights, sounds and smells accosting your senses change radically. One moment, the streets are cobbled, a charming, eclectic tapestry of mismatched bricks that catch your ankle because your face is upturned hungrily, soaking in the beauty of the piled-up apartments and the little old ladies traversing dizzying flights of stairs with pounds and pounds of fresh groceries. The next moment, you emerge into a bustling hub of high-powered businesswomen, barking into iPhones, toting Gucci hold-alls and tottering in stilettos that would certainly not hold up to the patchwork cobblestones of a street that lies thirty seconds’ walk away.
The museum’s exhibits capture this interplay between the scarves and the stilettos. There is a serendipitous beauty in the mundane, the teaspoons and saltshakers and used cigarettes that form the essence of the collection. However, there is nothing serendipitous in their organization; the objects are painstakingly arranged, each telling their own specific tale, both consolidating and extending the novel’s detailed commentary on Turkish society and the ‘[two] souls [of Istanbul that] are continuously in dialogue with each other, sparring with each other and changing each other.’ (Orhan Pamuk, 2005 interview). These dual souls seem to have taken up residence in the still coolness of the Museum, showing themselves as transient reflections that shimmer across the polished glass exteriors of the exhibits. There is a quiet certitude in the precision of the collection, a knowledge that mourns the loss of everything that has been and will be.
I cannot think of a more literal and powerful example of the phrase ‘bringing an object to life.’ This museum is no small artistic endeavor; it represents the melding of two genres, two times and two genres of artistic expression. It is this last melding that I find to be most interesting, that of the transition between two very different art forms. The novel has been translated into tens of languages, but this particular translation, from the flat off-white pages crammed with words to the evocative three-dimensional representations of the complicated process of love, is certainly its most powerful.
How, you may ask, does one craft a representation of love from teaspoons and cigarette butts?
A valid question indeed. The answer lies in Pamuk’s extraordinary attention to detail; he takes into account the minutest descriptions, down to the colour of Füsun’s lipstick, changing each day she smokes her favourite Samsun cigarettes. 4,213 of these cigarettes are mounted in an installation on the ground floor. Each is pinned to the display, encased in glass; next to it is a number and a date in spidery, scrawling black ink. Many of the cigarettes are stained with lipstick, all of varying shades of pink and red. Taking in details like these feels like the times when you wake up from an afternoon nap and completely forget where you are and what your name is. Everything is blurred; details are slippery and hard to grab a hold of. Perhaps, as you are examining the spectrum of lipstick colours, a shout from the fruit vendors that clatter up and down the cobblestoned streets outside the museum will catapult you back into reality, and you will ‘wake up,’ confused as to whether you live inside the pages of a novel and whether, just perhaps, Fusün is a real person with a real addiction and a lot of different lipsticks.
Photo courtesy of author
The Qasr al Hosn Festival was a ten-day community exhibition organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and held at the site of fort Qasr al Hosn, the city’s oldest building. Celebrating the history of the fort—which was built in 1761 and later became the ancestral home of the ruling Al Nahyan family—and the heritage of the Emirates following from this iconic structure, the festival boasts many pieces of material culture: traditional objects, structures, foods, and animals.
Perhaps the most prevalent, and the most puzzling, however, were the scores of people who have been appointed to work as the festival’s “cast.” While groups of festivalgoers wandered the old-timey souks, traced circles in the sand atop well-groomed horses and camels, and queued up for theatrical presentations, the cast of Qasr al Hosn performed. Some seemed in another world, focused solely on their handicrafts—among others, two men build a large dhow ship with resinous nails while a third carves palm wood into pieces for a smaller fishing boat; women in leather burkhas wove baskets and carpets with their skillful, henna-blackened fingers; and a group of fisherman sat in a circle, singing old Arabic sea shanties around a pile of wicker fishing nets. Not far away was a full bridal house, complete with a traditional Emirati “bride” and a gaggle of young bridesmaids, dancers with colorful dresses and hair that reached to the center of their backs. Young Emirati men, decked out in old policemen’s uniforms with heavy fake rifles and dusty brown keffiyeh, strolled the festival grounds. These cast members were consciously assembled, like objects in a museum, to both create and communicate a sense of Abu Dhabi’s material cultural heritage, grown from the white washed walls of the old stone fort.
Part of this distinction between person and object—even human “objects”—has to do with the other roles that people fulfill at the festival. Not everyone became an object. Each participant wore an identification tag with one of three distinctions—“Volunteer,” “Event Staff,” or “Cast.” While the cast was responsible for representing traditions of Emirati culture through certain kinds of performance (weaving, singing, crafting, storytelling, simply looking traditional), it was the staff and volunteers who interacted with the festival’s ticketholders. As I entered the festival, I was soon greeted by a young Emirati teen with a red and green armband from Takatof, a volunteer organization in the UAE. This young man, and later a group of knowledgeable high school–age Emirati girls, showed me around the various stalls, booths, and craft areas, explaining each tableau we approached—who the people inside were, what they were doing or making, and how the objects around them functioned.
Contributing to the need for mediation was the language barrier; if I spoke Arabic, I would have been able to understand the stories of the old marine storyteller. But as festival photographers snapped shots of men playing the rababa or building a dhow ship, it was easy to see that these performers were aware of their role as a spectacle of national tradition. Emphasizing this fact were the QR codes placed next to each “scene,” giving smart phone users easy access to these explanations without human contact—in most cases, one was not even required to step inside a building, much less speak to the people inside the tableaux. It was as if observers were expected to treat the cast merely as pieces in a museum, and each exhibit was carefully crafted to put us in the position of passive observers.
Some cast members were hired because of the skills they have—skills that were once an integral part of Emirati life and are now regarded as “artifacts.” The elderly fishermen, for example, weaving fishnets and drying fish in the marine area of the festival, once fed the Emirati community, and now they are “objects” used to demonstrate a historic method of subsistence. As we passed through the souk area, I saw plastic packets of dried fish at one booth, sold by a fresh-faced young Emirati man in national dress. The dried fish was once a staple of the Emirati diet, the souk vendor told me, explaining the various types of fish and their prices. As such, the fishermen would have been active participants in the economy of everyday food production. Now these men only represent daily life; they illustrate elements of Emirati culture that the Emirati girls who showed me around have never experienced. At another booth, vendors sold brightly colored woven cell phone covers. These, I saw later, were also created at the festival, this time by women weaving on a traditional loom. The fishermen and weavers were carefully chosen aspects of the past that my Emirati guides don’t actually remember—their daily lives are presumably not “traditional” enough to be displayed at the festival. So these products, the dried fish and iPhone accouterments, are tools used to remember the past while also repackaging it—literally—to serve the interests of the present.
The traditional Emirati policeman was another kind of human object. Unlike most of the other cast members, these men were mobile, found not only near the model of the police station, but also wandering the festival areas, fake rifles slung across their khaki-clad shoulders. Their minty green and dark maroon Land Rovers were interspersed throughout the heritage site in every area but the marine section, reminding us that the Qasr al Hosn was initially a watchtower and a fortress. The old-style policemen were not too far removed from today’s policemen, and while I don’t think these actors were cast to actually police the festival, they function as crowd control simply by playing the part. By patrolling the festival like policemen would have done, and by placing their trucks in the midst of the crowds, these “police” became objects that both represented order and created order. Just the presence of these men as objects was enough to create a sense of culture that not only represents what is historical, but reinforces present structures.
Using these people—the cast—as objects of material culture helps to serve the interests of the present but may also distort the image of a not so distant past. Actors in other historical reenactments—like Fort Ticonderoga, Jamestown, or Gettysburg, in the United States—are employed to make history come alive for a population that has no first-hand memory or experience of it. Visitors are led among historic rooms containing historic chairs upholstered with historic fabrics, encouraged to try their hand at historic techniques like churning butter, and entertained by performances of historic practices or events. It’s fun to plunge into the past, drawing parallels and comparisons between your life and the ones enacted by the cast with the knowledge that, unlike the American settlers, you can drive home in an air-conditioned car. In contrast, objects at the Qasr al Hosn festival were presented as “historic,” but the history in this case is so recent that it has living subjects—some of the festival’s fishermen are actually fishermen, rababa players actually play the rababa, and traditional coffee is still drunk from traditional coffee pots. This presentation of history, still remembered by some, is different than a 2013 reenactment of the American Revolution because here in Abu Dhabi, we are not looking at the past from a vantage point 250 years in the future. The people and practices showcased at the festival are part of the Emirati heritage, and part of a culture that can not and should not yet be relegated to a dusty box in the attic, or the quaint observations of the historically minded tourist. The Qasr festival put people on display to offer snapshots of a not-too-distant history and remind us of the need to remember the roots of a culture. In doing so, however, it raises the question: do these human “heritage objects” bring the past closer to us, or push it further away?
ON LOCATION IN THE UAE
I wake up to the silhouettes of mountains outlined by the rising sun. I fumble through my pack and find my alarm clock – it is an automatic habit – and look at the time. 6:50am. I always wake up 10 minutes earlier than my alarm, but this time I am grateful for my neurotic habit. The air that surrounds me is cool and quiet, the only sound the distant crowing of a morning rooster.
I am in a sleeping bag in Fujairah, in the campsite of an Emirati entrepreneur, Saif Al Dahmani. He is a man of medium height, with a bearded face and small, warm brown eyes. He wears an apricot-colored khandura, and a red-checkered keffiyeh wrapped around his head. He doesn’t speak much; when he does, he either speaks Arabic or mutters to the feast he has prepared for us. Plates of pita with hummus, breakfast cooked over an open fire, and an assortment of Arabic teas and coffees fill rows of table underneath a tent. Nearby, a campfire is burning, a welcome sensation amidst the cold desert winds that blow from the mountain peaks at dawn
Saif is an entrepreneur supported by the Khalifa Fund, the UAE’s government fund that helps to develop small- to medium-sized investments in the country. Saif used the money to build a traditional Emirati campsite among the mountains of Fujairah, offering a unique cultural experience that takes pride in its rugged hospitality. Stripped of the glamor associated with its neighbors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the campsite has far-reaching appeal: Saif has had guests ranging from intrepid backpackers to dignitaries from the French embassy. For entrepreneurs like Saif, the future is bright with promise.
Standing up slowly, every inch of my body tingles with awakening. The front side of the tent is open to the panoramic view of Fujairah. For those who slept outdoors like myself, Seif has prepared tents adorned with Emirati fabrics, ornately patterned and resistant against the blowing wind. Others slept in stone huts topped with large swaths of thin leaves.
I pause for a moment and look up from my notebook, and see that the sun has risen above the mountains. I let the warmth wash over me, and offer a small morning prayer in homage to the natural beauty around me. The mountain vistas of Fujairah rejuvenate me: I will return to the concrete cityscape of Abu Dhabi invigorated and refreshed.
[Photography by Geo Kamus]
One of the co-directors of this year’s “Global Shakespeare Student Festival,” Katherine Rowe, has been blogging about the Festival as it unfolds. Rowe is Chair and Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College, and together with her colleague Catharine Slusar, she is the leader of a troupe of student actors attending the Festival from the Tri-College Consortium (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore).
She is the author of Dead Hands: Fictions of Agency, Renaissance to Modern (Stanford University Press, 19990 and New Wave Shakespeare on Screen (with Thomas Cartelli; Polity Press, 2007). She has served on the editorial board of Shakespeare Quarterly and currently inflects her study of Shakespearean theater with work in the areas of digital humanities and media change. You can get a sense of what that means by reading her article “Crowd-Sourcing Shakespeare: Screen Work and Screen Play in Second Life®,” which is available online here.
The Global Shakespeare Student Festival Blog is available at http://performance360.blogs.brynmawr.edu/.
“As an intensely collaborative and inherently local art form, the theater offers a way of creating community.” So states the NYU Abu Dhabi website. But it turns out that creating community is a tricky business: where to start, and how? Conversations pave the way, but sometimes conversations can be difficult to initiate.
Theater, however, can be a wonderful way to begin that dialogue. Abu Dhabi is a city that does not easily engage in conversation, but lately it has begun to engage with theater. In the past few decades, the government has built numerous theaters, including the magnificent Abu Dhabi Theater on the breakwater. More recently, the government has invested money in touring companies like the Bedouin Shakespeare Company as well as in institutions like NYU Abu Dhabi, which brings theater and drama with it as part of its educational mandate.
These past few months have seen three productions open to the general public: Theatre Mitu’s A Dream Play at NYU Abu Dhabi, Resuscitation Theatre’s Playboy of the Western Region at Café Arabia, and a musical adaptation of the story of Pinocchio for children at the National Theater. These productions seem so incongruent alongside each other that it is difficult to imagine what kind of community could be created from such a mélange of styles and stories. Regardless of history or aims, however, each of these productions changed the landscape of theatre in Abu Dhabi and, in some small way, is contributing to the shape of the city’s community and its cultural life. Theater Mitu, in particular, offers an interesting way to think about the role of theater in the creation of both a theater-going culture and an ongoing, city-wide conversation about the experience of performance and art.
Theater Mitu is a professional theater company based in New York as well as Abu Dhabi. Its artistic director, Rubén Polendo, heads the Theater program at NYU Abu Dhabi and has been involved in the development of the arts curriculum at the university. Like all of the faculty at NYU Abu Dhabi, Polendo has faced the difficulties of building a program from the ground up, a process complicated by the fact that NYUAD is a “global university” situated in a cosmopolitan city. Eng-Beng Lim, in “Performing the Global University,” writes that the “ramifications” of faculty decisions may be “monumental for liberal arts education as a whole in the coming decades.” Polendo faces the additional challenge of “contextualizing theater and performance studies within the global university.” In other words, the NYUAD theater program must situate itself not only within the confines of the university but also within the city where the work is performed.
Thus the publicity surrounding Theater Mitu productions means that their performances are seen as representative of NYU Abu Dhabi, just as all theater productions in the city are seen as representative of the city as a whole. A Dream Play had to perform two roles: both immediately as a production of NYU Abu Dhabi, but also as a feature of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape. The success of Theater Mitu’s various productions marks not only an appetite for theater in the city, but also a genuine enthusiasm for the dramatic arts. Theater is a defining art form, and Abu Dhabi as a city has not shied away from this definition.
Abu Dhabi seems to want theater, but not necessarily theater that “speaks to Abu Dhabi” or “tells the Abu Dhabi story.” The contextualization of theater that Lim describes does not mean that all plays performed in Abu Dhabi need to be set in or be about Abu Dhabi. But any show produced in the city must be aware that it is at the vanguard of the theater in this city. Theater is a powerful force for the development of a community, and every play will have an effect. That responsibility is not to be shouldered lightly.
Theater Mitu’s production of August Strindberg’s A Dream Play was a reinterpretation of the text under Polendo’s direction. His adaptation of the script was reminiscent of Caryl Churchill’s own reworking of the script for London’s National Theatre a decade or so ago, in its simplification of some of the original’s obtuseness and obscurity. The rest of the staging was similarly beautiful in its simplicity: the set and costumes were almost wholly white, with symbolic video projections and atmospheric music that conjured up the dream-like world that these actors and their audience were entering.
The play’s underlying themes were undoubtedly universal. The audience witnessed an anxious love story set against a backdrop of human futility. Universality may be one requisite of how to perform the global university, as a way of offering the creation of community. The audience walked away from the auditorium that evening discussing, critiquing and – perhaps – dreaming. On a university level, the production gave students the chance to engage with a professional theater company. On a city level, A Dream Play gave Abu Dhabi the chance to engage with theater. These chances are coming more often, and the city proves more receptive to these provocations with each production. Conversations are starting, and communities are growing. New York University claims that it is “in and of the city”; in the same way, theater in Abu Dhabi must be “intensely collaborative and inherently local.” Only with such engagement can the city perform as a global city on a global stage.
[Photos courtesy of Theater Mitu. Top: A Dream Play at NYU Abu Dhabi; bottom: Corey Sullivan in A Dream Play.]
From March 15 through 19, NYU Abu Dhabi will be hosting troupes of students from NYU, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore, Cairo University, American University of Sharjah, and UAE University in Al Ain for its first Global Shakespeare Student Festival. Part of the NYUAD Global Shakespeare Project (co-directors Cyrus Patell and Rubén Polendo), this year’s festival focuses on the contributions that undergraduate performer-scholars can make to the construction of a field of study and performance known as “Global Shakespeare.”
The festival includes master classes in performance and scholarship for the student-participants, as well as two evenings of performance, in which the students will perform their works-in-progress for one another. We will be featuring glimpses of the festival and interviews with participants here on Electra Street.
SUNDAY, March 17
Rough, Raw and Playful: Twelfth Night, 2.3
An exploration of the wide range of possibilities and variety within a scene through dynamic play instead of resorting to fixed choices (such as blocking, etc). The primary mode of exploration is physicality and how it might inform or be led by thought and language. How can play help us find out what’s possible within a scene? How can it help us locate shifts in mode?
Students: Annie Attanasio, Charlie Kennedy IV, C.J. Leede, Beth Pollack, Mike Walsh
Team Leader: Kristin Horton
Macbeth: Turning Points
The short scenes presented are creating a microcosm of Shakespeare’s Macbeth showing scenes that move the play forward. Whether they are through fate or personal choice, this performance focuses on those turning points in the arcs of the characters that are most interesting to see on stage. The interactions with the text, space and the characters themselves are based on the importance of the turning point – on the levels of both text and character – in any dramatic text/performance.
Students: Aya el Shafel, Julie Khiry, Zainab Magdy, Abdelrahman Nasser, Adham Sayed
Team Leader: Dina Amin
Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore Ensemble
A deep sleep. A multilingual unraveling of a life full noises, sounds and sweet airs that delight and hurt. Not just from the dreams of Shakespeare, but of Caliban dreamed again in each of us.
Students: Monique Alfonso, Madeline Brady, Linnae Bullard-Werner, Camilla Dely, Amelia Dombush, Cory Downing, Jacqueline Handy, Katherine Littrell, Joseph Ramirez, Maria Russo
Team Leaders: Katherine Rowe, Catharine Slusar
The Enchanted Island of Love and Tempest
A 20-minute adaptation of the 75-minute January 21, 2013, production at UAEU which incorporated original material and scenes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Davenant & Dryden’s The Tempest; or, The Enchanted Isle. The musical motif of the play featured a range of musical selections from The Beach Boys, Fontella Bass, and Meatloaf, as well as other past and contemporary artists.
Students: Maryam Abdulla, Asma Abdullah, Bshsayer Ahmed, Nouf Ahmed, Noora Ahmed, Fatima Husain Ali, Fatma Ali, Ohood Ali, Alya Haidar, Asma Ibrahem, Fatma Ibrahim, Marwa Khaled, Mahra G. Khalfan, Shamma Khalfan, Fatmah Kindi, Sarah Mohammed, Maryam Rabeea, Nouf Saeed, Hajar Salem, Maha Salem
Other Performers: Zena Al Nazer, Zarina Cabailo, Prabhath Dhevindra, Rosanna May Fajardo, Rhomina Natividad, Rommel Perico, Kristine Quintos, Assyl Yacine
Team Leader: Jim Mirrione
Talkback, Rubén Polendo (moderator)
MONDAY, March 18
American University of Sharjah
Macbeth Arabia Deconstructed
In fall 2011, AUS Theatre presented Macbeth in a 9th-century Arabian context, exploring cultural traditions through the text. This presentation is a deconstruction of that piece, a nightmare of Macbeth. Primary emphasis has been given to the rich cultural traditions of the Arabian Peninsula. With explorations of movement, dance and ceremony, it explores a union between Shakespeare and the Bedouins of Arabia.
Students: Hala Albassar, Meera Al Midfa, Sami Ismat,Razmig Bedirian, Helmi Chehab, Mona Eldahshoury, Farah Morra, Abishek Nair, Raiaan Yafi
Team Leaders: Anthony Tassa, Ken East, Cate Moran
This workshop is an attempt to dramatize Macbeth’s witches as something closer to how they are described in the histories Shakespeare appropriated, rather than as the wart-nosed hags that Shakespeare crafted to appeal to his contemporary audience. Using text from Act I scene 3 and Act IV scene 1, we applied the fundamental techniques of Butoh in our approach to the witches, striving for an ethereal, spectral aesthetic. This excerpt also incorporates a fragment of the epic Norse poem “The Wanderer” in our exploration of Macbeth’s friendship with and betrayal of Banquo.
Students: Jenna Dioguardi, Luke Eisemann, Alexandra Laird, Michael Norton, Victoria Sumrall
Team Leaders: Victoria Flores, Tomi Tsunoda
NYU Abu Dhabi
A combination of visual arts and sound and projection technology explores the intricacies of character and relationship by juxtaposing the texts of Othello and King Lear. This theatrical condensation explores concepts of love, gender, violence, and family units in two of Shakespeare’s major plays. This collaboration of international artist and students finds a common ground in timeless and global topics within Shakespeare’s work
Students: Nikolai Kozak, Alexandra Lenihan, Oscar Lozano, Bhavna Menon, Valentina Vela, Nia Wilson
Team Leaders: Nikolai Kozak, Valentina Vela
Talkback, Rubén Polendo (moderator)
For more information about the Global Shakespeare Student Festival, contact Electra Street at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Updated 16 March 2013]