poetical scene. and that’s pretty much the only cultural scene we really have. So this show is written in unbelievably beautiful and complex poetry. Staging it was a real challenge for the whole crew.‘
Whatever the challenge. Jidariy'va. Zaubi's production of this epic. which he originally began working on in London during a spell away from his home theatre in Ramallah. has toured to date with distinction. “It‘s weird for me because this show was in no way made for touring.‘ he says ‘It happened because I read this unbelievable text that wouldn't let go; it kept nudging me. going. “Hey. I‘m here." It had all the ingredients that were right for me at that moment. and culturally they were right for us. It wasn‘t meant to be a show for European audiences. It’s a show for Palestinians by Palestinians. The things that occur in the show. the images. are very culturally linked. In a way that makes it interesting for foreigners to see: it‘s like eavesdropping on something quite different.
He continues: ‘I was nervous about taking it away at first. but everywhere it has shown has given it a very positive reaction. I suppose that‘s because it‘s got a very human issue at the centre: everyone can relate to a man fearing his death and calculating his life.‘
Beyond this universal idea. there are undoubted political themes to the work. The reflections of a dying man upon the land from which he has been exiled inescapany become political. For 7.aubi. it's a question of raising the issues confronting the Palestinian people. but also humanising the story. ‘As a director I keep trying to find the right balance. It was important to us to make a show that was very political.
but not political in a flat way.~ he says. ‘A dying man. struggling for life — the equation is already there with Palestine. with our struggle for life. without us needing to amplify it. This is a window into the richness of our culture. and that‘s a collateral gain that we get from showing it. It's saying we‘re not just about checkpoints and Israeli soldiers aiming weapons at us. we are people with a very long history. very thick in textures and colours. and this is an opportunity to meet us on that level. as well as the politics.‘
Full as it is with images of prophets. goddesses and a paradoxical sprinkling of the everyday. .lidurfvyu speaks. Zaubi emphasises. in the rich language of the
Qur'rm. But religion isn‘t a requirement of
understanding the piece. for it’s about the land itself. ‘lslam and Christianity always co-existed. so did Judaism until the '/.ionistic movement.‘ says Zaubi. ‘Judaism was always part of the culture. it only becomes an issue because of the world situation. I can't say this poet is a Muslim or a (‘hristian — he's both. At the end of the show there's that quote: "All rivers flow to the sea and the sea is never full." It's from the Old liavtunmzr: this poem is about all the religions and cultures of the region. They are all here. they walk between us. you meet them in the bits station any day. you can sit between them. This
country is a meeting point for it all. It doesn't matter if
you’re religious or a complete infidel like me. because culturally it’s all here. you can‘t ignore it. This is the country where it all happened.'
Jidariyya, Royal Lyceum Theatre, 473 2000, 14-17 Aug, 8pm, 5210-1225.
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A IFFEENT cuss
Haris Pasovic’s production of Nigel Williams’ Class Enemy transports the action from late 705 South London to post-civil war Sarajevo, as Mark Fisher discovers
When Nigel Williams' Class Enemy made its debut at London's Royal Court in 1978. hip hop was still a phenomenon of the American underground. It would never have occurred to a director to incorporate it into this portrayal of a bunch of teenagers in a dead-end London secondary school. But when director Haris Pasovic came to re-imagine the play for a post-civil war generation of Sarajevo youth, the muSical genre ~ along with sniffing glue and carrying guns — seemed a fitting part of the landscape.
In the interests of authenticity, he tracked down two real-life hip hoppers for the job. ‘l'm working with the East West Centre by accident.‘ says Samir Karic. a journalism student from the small town of Kalesija in eastern Bosnia. ‘My colleague Amir Muminovic and I are hip hoppers and one of our songs critiCIsed the mayor of the town. After one performance in a club. the son of the mayor attacked us. The story ended up in the daily newspapers and. after reading the article. Hans invited us to be a part of the performance.‘
"Hip hop came as a natural in this world.’ says the director. ‘The songs that they sing are the monologues just put in hip hop form.‘
I Class Enemy, Royal Lyceum Theatre, 473 2000, 20—23 Aug, 8pm, [IO—£25.
fir—21. Aug 2008 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 53