Wednesday, June 29, 2016

'Riding on a Cloud'



“Character and actor are the same person, character and actor are not the same, and the actor is leaving his role—he is not any more actor, and is watching the character playing itself. So it’s between these three, which is shifting all the time, trying to blur the borders between fiction and reality.”

I was hesitant to watch Lebanese playwright and actor Rabih Mroué's mixed-media play 'Riding on a Cloud', billed under the O.P.E.N (SIFA). It isn't the matter of being bored. I rarely am. It's more of how the topics addressed in this play are really personal and I'm not sure I want to think so much about war, conflict and the the pain it inflicts. It feels so far away, and yet not so far away.

It is as I thought. It's pointed, moving, painfully emotional and raw. The friends and I left the show feeling really pensive. Rabih Mroué's plays center around the Lebanese Civil War. This one talks about how his brother Yasser was shot in Beirut 1987. Although Yasser survived with bullet bits in his brain, resulting in partial paralysis and aphasia. The title 'Riding on a Cloud' is derived from Yasser's anthology of poems. It's not so much a focus on the shooting. It's an exploration of how his brother learnt the language again and slowly regains speech, how he now views the world and its realities, of how Rabih views him and the world. 

Besides the above quote, in the same 2015 interview with The New Yorker, Rabih Mroué also said, 

“This is something related to our life and to our history in Lebanon, and to all the versions we are fighting for, and the different ideologies,” he said. “If you accept every version as a reality without accusing it of being fabricated or a lie—if you just accept that there are many versions—then we can start to listen to each other and build a dialogue. Which we miss in Lebanon and this is why we are still going into wars.”

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