Last updated August 28th 2016
Eyes is an incandescent, moving performance inspired by the life and poems of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Poetry makes connections where no connection is apparent, obvious, or even seems possible. Poems make the impossible happen every day, they allow us to see, feel and understand what we otherwise might never know. Poetry brings us as close as we can get to the heart of a stranger.
Eyes presents the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008) in an intimate encounter, in song and text, music and movement, in Arabic and Hebrew. Directed by Norman Issa, the texts were edited by Abed Natour, Norman Issa, and Igal Ezraty, with new music for poems of Darwish composed by Mira Awad. Hebrew and Arabic flow in and out of spoken word, song and projected subtitles so mellifluously that one is immersed in the music of the words, swept away by the images on a current of feelings. One’s awareness of language shifts from the literal – now they are speaking Arabic, now they are speaking Hebrew – to the figurative, alive to the tone, rhythm, and sound, the emotions and associations evoked by the poetry.
Eyes is a poetic experience, performed by four actors who take on different roles throughout the piece, moving freely between Arabic and Hebrew. Symbolically and literally putting on the black framed glasses of Darwish, they show the world as seen through his eyes. Life formed and informed the poems of Darwish, who was born in the village of El-Birweh in the Galilee and was forced to flee to Lebanon in 1948, returning a year later to find the village razed, and that he had become, in some sense, a refugee in his own land. The poems here tell the story of a life, not as a chronological historical document, but rather conveying the essence of the poet’s experience. Blurring the lines between poetry and biography, scenes merge into poem and song, life story and poetry existing in parallel on the stage. Music creates a connection to the poetry that transcends differences of language, culture, gender and politics. Mira Awad is a luminous presence, her music is the heartbeat of this production, the life-force that flows through it all in the strum of her guitar, the rhythm of the drum and the sincere beauty of her voice.
Passionate, sensual, imbued with warmth and suffused with an intelligent sensitivity, the poems of Darwish illuminate this musical theatrical production. Childhood memories of sleeping on the roof during the hot Mediterranean summer, that one teacher who made a difference, the senseless indignities of prison, falling in love, appreciating that even in the act of brewing our morning coffee – “I ask myself how can hands write, that do not know how to prepare coffee?” (my own literal translation from the play, the prose poem appears in Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982), we are inventing the text of our lives – one emerges from this performance with a vivid sense of Mahmoud Darwish.
Directed by: Norman Issa
Assistant Director: Nir Vidan
Editors: Abed Natour, Norman Issa, Igal Ezraty
Music: Mira Awad
Design Consultant: Salim Shehadeh
Lighting: Ziv Voloshin
Cast: Mira Awad, Einat Weizman, Anat Hadid, Doriwad Lidawei
Performances: September 6, 2016 at the Jaffa Theatre. Additional information and tickets may be found on the Jaffa Theatre website.
The show is performed in alternating Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles. A fluent knowledge of either Hebrew or Arabic is recommended for this performance, alternatively, a mind that is very open to experiencing through the senses rather than the intellect.