DAY 2 – Thursday September 29th
18.00-18.30: Body Revolution
18.30-19.00: Nagesprek met Mokhallad Rasem
@ Dramastudio 2, School of Arts, Ghent
20.00-20.30: Body Revolution
20.30-21.00: Nagesprek met Mokhallad Rasem
@ Dramastudio 2, School of Arts, Ghent
On December 17th 2010 a young Tunisian street vendor called Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in protest against the regime. What followed was an extraordinary year of uprisings, which broke out pretty much all over the Middle East, a wave of protest which was soon rather over-optimistically dubbed the “Arab spring”. Almost every country in the region had its version of this Arab spring these (r)evolutions – which, sadly, rarely brought solace – have been given widespread coverage by the media in recent years.
What effect have all these images on other theatre directors and performers who live here in Belgium but have their roots in Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, etc. How does it feel? How as an expat do you process all the information that comes to you from family and friends who stayed behind? What does that information do to your body? How does the body react to violence and fear?
Together with three performers, Mokhallad Rasem looks for an answer to these questions through dance. Body Revolution, an installation and performance about the effects of violence and suffering on the body, is a guerrilla version of a show: made and performed in a short space of time for a limited public.
As well as touring Belgian schools, social organizations and refugee centers, the production has been staged in Uganda, Morocco, India, the United Kingdom, Spain, Egypt, Belgrade and the Netherlands.
Concept, director: Mokhallad Rasem
Dancers, actors: Mostafa Benkerroum, Bassim Mohsen, Ehsan Hemat
Video: Paul Van Caudenberg
Coproduction: Artefact Festival STUK Leuven
Mokhallad Rasem (Bagdad, 1981) trained as a director and actor in Bagdad, where he also made his first productions. But the war in Iraq changed the course of his life and for the last eight years he has been living and working in Belgium. His work for the theatre is breathtaking, associative and fragmentary in construction, clear and expressive in its ideas. His is a new voice on the theatre scene. He made a name for himself with Irakese Geesten (Iraqi Ghosts, creative award Theater aan Zee 2010, selected for the Vlaams Theaterfestival 2010) and with Monde.com (Facebook) (KunstenfestivaldesArts 2011).
Since January 1st 2013 he has been a permanent theatre-maker with Toneelhuis where he is concentrating on the European repertoire: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Othello and Romeo and Juliet. Rather than staging productions that are faithful to the original script, Mokhallad Rasem selects key themes from the plays and uses them to create his own world in which image, silence and the physical presence of the performers are as important as the words and the story. Romeo & Julia was premièred at the Bourla theatre in April 2013. It was also shown at the 2013 Salzburg Festival as part of the Young Directors project and in August of that year Mokhallad Rasem was chosen by the jury as the winner out of the final shortlist of four. At the end of the 2013-14 season Mokhallad invited each of four theatre-maker friends (Lotte van den Berg, Yousif Abbas, Kristian Al Droubi and Gökhan Shapolski Girginol) to make a 20-minute show on the theme of waiting. The result, Waiting, was shown at a one-night festival and then went on tour. Mokhallad Rasem’s own contribution to Wachten (Waiting) won third prize at the BE FESTIVAL in Birmingham in 2014, which led to an extensive tour of the United Kingdom and Spain that same year. Djinny was premièred on November 2nd 2013, during the 2013-14 season. This enchanting children’s show about absence was produced by De Maan and directed by Mokhallad. In December 2013 Mokhallad directed the shadow show Life’s but a walking shadow for ’t Arsenaal in Mechelen as part of the GEN2020 festival. April 2014 brought the première of Mokhallad’s second Shakespeare production with Toneelhuis: Hamlet Symphony, in which he paid tribute to his late father.
In the autumn of 2014 Rasem directed Closed Curtains, a play about the agonies of the banned Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi (at ‘t Arsenaal in Mechelen and Theater Malpertuis coproduction).
With a number of performers from the Middle East and North Africa, in February 2015 he made Body Revolution for Toneelhuis, an installation and performance about the effects of violence and suffering on the body. Rasem’s version of Shakespeare’s classic Othello for three actors followed in March 2015. In the autumn of 2015 Mokhallad Rasem directed an adaptation of Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. In the spring of 2016 he directed PAX Europa, a DNA (NL), t,arsenaal and Toneelhuis coproduction. Mokhallad Rasem is now preparing a number of new projects: Zielzoekers, Looking for Oresteia and Young Baghdad, all three of which will be staged in the 2016-2017 season, while Wachten and Body Revolution travel far afield and Othello and De kinderjaren van Jezus are revived at the Bourla among other places.