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A Space to Meet and Share: A Corner in the World Fest 3 from Istanbul

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A photo from the opening ceremonies on a rainy day. Photo: Bomontiada Alt.

The festival began with an Iran/Belgium work A Reason To Talk, performed by Sachli Gholamalizad, a young Belgian actress of Iranian descent. It questioned her troubled relationship with her mother. The story tells how she had been taken to Belgium by her mother because of the war in Iran when she was a child. Now, in the performance, Gholamalizad blames her mother since her mother never shared her feelings and troubles from that time with her. In this performance, Gholamalizad tries to find out how she can present her memory and her family’s past to confront both her mother and grandmother. To do this, she combines various materials belong to herself such as self-created tapes both from Belgium and Iran, her diary, stories, and soundscapes which are shown on five different display screens controlled by the performer.

A scene from the performance A Reason To Talk. Photo: Murat Dürüm.

This was followed by a very inspiring performance from Lebanon, Jogging, written and performed by Lebanese actress Hanane Hajj Ali who is in her fifties. To avoid osteoporosis, obesity and depression, she exercises daily on the streets of Beirut. Along the way she remembers, dreams and thinks about her past, her experience and also the changing face of Beirut. Then she realizes that a foul smell of catastrophe overwhelms the streets of the city, recalling Shakespeare’s famous saying: “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.” Thus, using this routine jogging on the streets, she begins to tell her story, which is blended with the other women’s stories, particularly that of Medea, with whom she shares some commonalities. She tells the stories of three Medea-like women: the first is Hanane, the performer’s own self who decided to kill her cancerous son to relieve him from the pain and suffering. The second is Yvanne, an educated, intellectual woman who killed her three daughters by putting poisons into their fruit salads and then killed herself, recording all these crimes on a video. The last is Zehra, in her fifties, who wants her sons to become martyrs after her husband’s betrayal. Based on a storytelling form, the performance Jogging invites the audience onto the stage and gives them roles.  For me, this was what made it different from other storytelling performances, at least from those we have attended in Turkey.

Hanane Hajj Ali in Jogging. Photo: Murat Dürüm.

The next performance on May 7 was from Morocco: HA! performed by an unruly dancing group founded by Bouchra Ouizguen. Ha! explores all kinds of madness in between genius and wisdom, both ordinary and bloodthirsty, isolating and liberating. Starts in darkness, the performance was inspired by the poetry of Jalal ad-Din Rumi. The performance. For fifteen minutes or so we only heard voices singing songs recalling the rite of the dervishes. The only things we could see on the dark stage are five white head scarfs. Then five middle-aged and heavy-set women in tight black clothes appeared. They were all in a trance and dancing in different ways. However, what was the relationship between madness and dancing in this performance? The artistic director and choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen has explained that in Arab culture madmen are numerous. There are also numerous remedies for them, including singing, dancing, mystical rituals, trances or shamanism. Starting from this point, she takes us on a journey through Morocco to delve into the relationship between our body and soul with our own obsessions.

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