Sharjah Art Foundation returns for second season; events, dates, timings revealed
Following the success of last year’s edition, the programme returns for its second season with eight performances, presented across Sharjah from 19 October, 2023 until 11 February, 2024.
ArtDayME: Sharjah Art Foundation’s season of performances returns from October 2023 to February 2024. Perform Sharjah invites you to encounter new experiences that unfold as you explore the city through a diverse selection of performative works, workshops and talks.
While the first season presented performances in streets and squares, the second edition reflects on the extensive development project that began in Sharjah 30 years ago to restore, rehabilitate and rebuild the historical area of the city with art and culture at its centre. Mostly staged in the city’s restored houses and spaces, the second season presents works that engages with transmitted heritage and modern archives, examining their role in the contemporary imagination. The programme also focuses on issues of identity, cultural particulars, epistemology and alternative histories.
Perform Sharjah opens in Dar Al Nadwa in Calligraphy Square with Metamorphosis #2 directed by Essia Jaïbi, and written and performed in collaboration with her mother, Jalila Baccar, an icon of Tunisian and Arab modern theatre. Dar Al Nadwa will also host a masterclass for young actors which will conclude with a public performance at the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy. Artist Rayyane Tabet will adapt The Flying Saucer’s unique architecture for his performance The Return, which traces the history of a marble sculpture unearthed in Lebanon in 1967. Back in Calligraphy Square, Mohit Takalkar’s play Hunkaro (co-presented by Ishara Art Foundation) will interweave three contemporary tales of human hardship, tied together by a common thread: the vital importance of hope. Performed in Bait Al Serkal, Singing Youth by theatre director Judit Böröcz, visual artist Bence György Pálinkás and composer Máté Szigeti traces the use of art and sports for political propaganda through time.
At the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, Beijing-based TAO Dance Theatre will perform the dance piece titled 4 which centres around four bodies that move with strength and deliberation. In Bait Al Serkal, theatre group Berlin will present the performance Perhaps All the Dragons, which takes the form of an installation, with each viewer seated across from a screen where an individual tells a story in a filmed monologue. In the tranquil courtyard of Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, choreographer Radouan Mriziga’s Libya is an artistic adventure that explores the Amazigh people’s systems of knowledge and unknown parts of their history. Perform Sharjah concludes at Bait Al Serkal with Perhaps Here. In this heritage house which is charged with many stories from the past, the performance will highlight concepts, stories and aesthetics that reflect the imagination through different artistic disciplines, including theatre, literature, poetry, dance and video installations.
The performances for the second season include the following:
METAMORPHOSIS #2 BY ESSIA JAÏBI AND JALILA BACCAR
(19–22 October 2023, Dar Al Nadwa, Calligraphy Square)
In Metamorphosis #2, Essia Jaïbi revisits the memories seared into her mind since childhood. She locks up her mother, Jalila Baccar, in the glass-walled dressing room of an imagined theatre and pressures her to address the audience.
Devised as a confrontation between two generations, the performance tackles art, theatre and cultural activism that evolve into a critique of Tunisia’s political, cultural, economic, environmental and healthcare systems as well as the rights of minorities and people with disabilities.
Alongside the performance, Baccar will conduct a masterclass for professional actors from the UAE and the wider Gulf region. She will work intensively with the participants and offer instructions in acting through readings from her first script as a playwright. In Search of Aïda debuted in 1998 during an event organised by the Beirut Theatre to commemorate 50 years of the Nakba. In the play, she shares the story of her search for her missing Palestinian friend Aïda.
Now, 25 years after that first performance, Baccar will train young actors to read her epic text, which highlights the ongoing tragedy endured by Palestinians, both inside and outside Palestine. The masterclass will conclude with a presentation open to the public.
THE RETURN BY RAYYANE TABET
27, 28 and 29 October 2023; 24 and 25, 26 November 2023; 3 and 4 February 2024 The Flying Saucer
The Return traces the 50-year journey of a marble sculpture depicting a bull’s head, using interviews as well as inventory lists, photographs, legal documents and other evidence presented to the New York Supreme Court from investigations that lasted for years.
Eventually restituted to Lebanon, the sculpture is now on display at the National Museum in Beirut.
HUNKARO BY MOHIT TAKALKAR CO-PRESENTED BY ISHARA ART FOUNDATION
4 and 5 November 2023, Calligraphy Square
In modern society, where listening to others is often replaced with the consumption of visual media, Hunkaro — meaning ‘verbal affirmation’ in Marathi — invites the audience to practise the precious gift of attention through active, participatory listening.
The performance interweaves three stories of human trials and tribulations, tied together by the vital importance of hope and the impossibility of life without it. Using traditional singing and vocal techniques, the stories are narrated in different styles, languages and dialects by six professional actors.
In the absence of musical instruments, the performers emphasise the aesthetic value of language and the importance of the spoken word.
SINGING YOUTH BY JUDIT BÖRÖCZ, BENCE GYÖRGY PÁLINKÁS AND MÁTÉ SZIGETI
5 and 6 January 2024, Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square
Representing three youths, Singing Youth is a larger-than-life memorial statue by Greek sculptor Memos Makris, a political refugee in Hungary. In 1953, the statue was installed in front of a sports stadium in Budapest, where it still stands today, having survived the collapse of communism and later the demolition of the stadium and the building of a new one in its place.
In this acapella performance, also titled Singing Youth, a theatre maker, visual artist and composer team up to bring the sculpture to life. Composed of excerpts from newspaper articles, interviews and statements made by politicians over the years, the lyrics present the sculpture as a witness to political upheaval, current affairs and the use of arts and sports for political ends.
4 BY TAO YE
7 January 2024, Sharjah Performing Arts Academy
Tao Ye’s choreographic works explore the potential of the human body beyond the limitations of representation or dramaturgical narrative. In his performance titled 4, the choreography is abstract, with the bodies expressing pure phenomenal movement.
A quartet of fluid bodies flows in powerfully controlled movements around a magnetic central point. Relentlessly, they perform a fixed pattern of movements, as if seeking to achieve oneness. The central point keeps them together, but they cannot breach the distance between them. Minimal shifts in movement are masterfully built in throughout the performance, drawing the audience into a slowly growing trance. The music features brisk and energetic voices beating against the sound of a plaintive string instrument, generating a powerful energy that stimulates the anonymous figures moving on the bright white stage.
PERHAPS ALL THE DRAGONS BY BERLIN
13 January–4 February 2024, Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square
Perhaps All the Dragons puts an interesting spin on the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory — the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other.
In an intimate setting, spectators are seated at a large oval table, each facing a single screen. Seemingly ordinary people appear on their screens, each narrating an unusual but true story in a filmed monologue — a philosophic proposition, a scientific detail or an anecdote. The themes brought up in these stories are eclectic — together, they balance on the edge of believability.
LIBYA BY RADOUAN MRIZIGA
27 January 2024, Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square
In Libya, Radouan Mriziga collaborates with dancers to elaborate on trans-generational shared histories and epistemologies from an amazigh perspective, where the memories of the body play a pivotal role.
North African music, dance, landscapes and cave paintings depicting prehistoric dance moves are among the interconnected elements that inform a complex choreographic adventure. Layers of meaning are uncovered before us, drawing the features of an imagined, shared future from an amazigh point of view.
PERHAPS HERE BY VARIOUS ARTISTS
9—11 February 2024, Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square
Borrowing its title from Khulood Al Mualla’s fourth book of poetry Rubbama Huna, Perhaps Here explores the orbits of contemporary imagination through a variety of live performances. This event will feature artists from diverse disciplines who will share their works with the public, inviting audiences to experience something that could either be intellectual, emotional or aesthetic in nature.
Over three days, 16 theatre makers, contemporary dancers, and installation and video artists as well as poets and writers will be performing their works simultaneously on repeat throughout the evening in a marathon of artistic productions. Audience members can select between four and six short shows (10 to 20 minutes each) to attend per night.
In conjunction with the performances, Perform Sharjah will offer a wide range of learning opportunities in theatre and performance through workshops and talks led by participating artists with local partners and cultural practitioners.
Admission is free — however, prior booking is required. Tickets can be booked at the box office in Al Mureijah Square, performance venues or on the website.