Workshop blog - When will we go back?

Day 14

We had 4 days holiday for Eid so I went off to explore what Lebanon has to offer,  jumping on and off various mini buses. Beaches and camping in Batroun, then up to Bcharri in the beautiful mountains to see the Khalil Gibran museum. Sour (or Tyr) in the south for souks and more beaches.

Back at the 'office' my aim for the week is to focus on chorus - exploring their relationship with main characters, space, each other and text. I tried a new exercise that I made up, inspired by Pina Bausch’s 'Cafe Muller'. Filling the room with lots of chairs, asking one person to walk blind-folded to the other side without touching a single chair or person. Refraining giving boundaries I want to see how it might evolve naturally. It is interesting to see how the group divides - some who sit watching and commenting on the action, some who hurriedly move chairs out of her way, and others who purposefully put obstacles in her way. We gradually progress the exercise so that the blind folded person has an accomplice guiding her with instructions.  The same thing happened with the ‘rebellious’ women moving chairs to make her journey arduous. Interesting to see individual characteristics shining through.

The afternoon session with Omar and Mohammad was looking at the homework they were set over Eid: 
1. Bring/sing a song from your village.
2. Write a letter to something/somewhere you miss.
3. Write a monologue of one of the characters from Antigone, in your own words.

I’ve noticed when they are given a written exercise, some women write in classical Arabic, which I feel loses the passion and expression.  Mohammad instructs them to write in their own colloquial dialects from now on, which make a huge difference.   

Majdolin reads out a song.  Here is a literal translation of it:

When will we go back to our country?
Son of Daraa, when will we go back?
When will we go back to our country?
My heart is screaming inside.
We’ll go back to fulfill our promises
All the people will rest
We’ll hug you with our sons
And sadness will become happiness.
The Free Syrian Army you support us,
With honour you carry weapons.
We’re coming back Houran
To rid you of your fear
We’re coming back Daraa

To rid you of your fear.
O Levant, all the sadness on your shoulders.
Houran, the world is gathered around your name
We emerged from you and we will go back inside your womb.

Most of the women clap and cheer.  Zarifa points out, “I’m not clapping, see, I didn’t clap”. As we pack up I ask her why, she says, “Because I support the regime. Until the day I die I will support the Syrian Army - because we were happy in those days.” I hadn't really thought about whether these women would be pro or against the regime, and who would be on which side... it doesn't make a difference to me, they are all in the same situation regardless.  Although it makes an interesting case when looking at Antigone's story - who do you sympathise with - Antigone or Creon?

"...think what a death we’ll die, the worst of all if we violate [Creon’s] laws and override the fixed decree of the throne, it’s power—we must be sensible. Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men…We’re underlings, ruled by much stronger hands…I must obey the ones who stand in power."  Ismene urges Antigone to be rational.