Seuls at the Theatre de la Colline. Photo: Thibaut Baron.
Articles, Volume 9

Wajdi Mouawad’s Seuls: When the body performs memory.

Wajdi Mouawad’s Seuls: When the body performs memory.
By Rachel M. Watson   
Arab Stages, Volume 9 (Fall, 2018) 
©2018 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

“We are buildings inhabited by a renter about whom we know nothing. Our renovated façades present well. But who is this madman suffering from insomnia who, on the inside, paces round and round for hours, turning the lights off and on?”[1]

In an essay about his work, Lebanese-Canadian playwright, Wajdi Mouawad, compares the body to a building, inhabited by an Other. On first glance, Mouawad may seem to be using figurative language to illustrate psychological trauma, the “madness” caused by repressed memories. More consideration should be given, however, to Mouawad’s use of physical terms to describe the phenomenon of disunited self. Indeed, in his architectural analogy, Mouawad presents the experience of housing the Other in one’s body in concrete, material terms (building, façade), in terms of physical movement (pacing), and in terms of changing physical environments perceptible to the sense of sight (light and darkness). His insistence on the physical and material in his description of the relationship between the self and the haunting Other—together with his choice of theatre, an embodied medium—belies the notion that Mouawad is singularly interested in the psychological and evidences a concern for exploring the physiological relationship between ourselves and the Other in us, the past selves from which we feel distant but which, nonetheless, inhabit our bodies.

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