Here Is The News From Over There is an hour of unrehearsed (or loosely rehearsed) storytelling focused on everyday tales from Middle East. Three short plays, the majority written by Middle Eastern playwrights, are randomly selected to be performed each night. Perhaps some more transparency in the selection process would have helped to engage audiences more, or at least make them feel more included in the creative chaos that ensues.
However, the theme that links this apparently disparate triptych is ‘the poetry of the ordinary’. This certainly emerges in David Greig’s piece on lucid dreaming, the first of the three plays. It is captivating while maintaining a light poignancy. The camp Muslim boy’s text dialogue with his female friend is dotted with references to Rihanna and iPhone emoticons. This really honed in on the ‘poetry of the ordinary’ and, in doing so, helped close the gap between ‘us’ and ‘the place we see on the television’, a phrase which artistic director, Lorne Campbell, honestly admitted at the beginning of the evening.
Next up came a live translation of an Arabic poem. While interesting in theory, it was difficult to follow in practice. The beautiful language and detailed tale became increasingly harder to appreciate due to the constant back and forth of audiences’ heads between reader and translator.
The highlight for me is the live weaving that takes place towards the back of the stage. Fiona, the particular artist on the night I watched, weaved a live tapestry in response to the storytelling. This is something I would have liked to have seen explored more, considering I spent the majority of the show transfixed by the rhythm of the movement and her choice of muted colours.
The hour was a chaotic one, and sometimes not in the good way, but give them a week and perhaps some ordered brilliance will emerge. Given the talent and passion of the team, this certainly seems likely.