In a totalitarian state, somewhere in the Arab World apparently inured to the changes sweeping across the region, all forms of theatre and public gatherings have recently been banned. But a condemned 1960’s performance of Twelfth Night has become the focal point for resistance blogs and underground, dissident social networks. The state, eager to quell this dangerous mixture of nostalgia and dissent commissions The Speaker, a once radical theatre maker now turned regime apologist, to make a forensic reconstruction and public denunciation of the 1960ʹ′s piece. As The Speaker and his group of non-acting volunteers delve deeper into the ‘reconstruction’, they find themselves increasingly engaged with the condemned material they are supposed to be condemning and discover in the act of performance – and the growing complicity of their audience – a solidarity that transforms the gathering into an unequivocal act of defiance towards the state.
A dark satire on the decades of hopelessness and political inertia that have fed recent revolts across the Arab region. A daring theatrical metaphor for the mechanisms of dissent.
Images and trailer courtesy of Sabab
Written & Directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam
Production Design by Sam Collins
Composition & Sound Design by Lewis Gibson
Previewed at the Al Maidan Cultural Centre, Kuwait in February 2011; Reworked for Le Tournesol Theatre, Beirut, Lebanon in September 2011; US Premiere at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) NYC as part of the Next Wave Festival. International touring presentations at Arts Emerson: The World On Stage, Paramount Theatre, Boston in October 2011; Les Journées Théâtrales de Carthage, National Theatre of Tunis & Municipal Theatre Sousa, Tunisia in January 2012; D-CAF Festival, Al Falaki Theatre, Cairo, Egypt in April 2012; Al Shamiya Theatre, Salmiya, Kuwait in May 2012; and the Holland Festival, Bellevue Theatre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands in June 2012