To be honest, I’m not a big fan of plays and the ones I’ve seen in Lebanon so far were truly disappointing, but I finally managed to convince a group of friends to join me in watching Venus after repeatedly hearing positive feedback about it and I’m glad I did! Venus is an absolutely brilliant play and it was extended for 10 more days due to an overwhelming popular demand.
Here’s my review, and please bare with me as it’s the first time I review a play:
The Lebanese adaptation by Lina Khoury and Grabriel Yammine of David Ives’ broadway success “Venus in Fur” – the play is in colloquial Lebanese Arabic – turned out to be a hit under the direction of Jacques Maroun. Rita Hayek and Badih Abou Chakra – the only two actors in the play – mesmerized the audience with their impeccable acting. Although some conservative minds might be offended by the audacity of the actors and their indecent exposure, this is what exactly goes to show that they offered themselves unconditionally. The play itself includes direct references to the novel “Venus in Furs” by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Just like the term sadism was coined after the notorious Marquis de Sade, the term masochism was named after Sacher-Masoch. Although the theme is not superficial, the play is filled with humor which provoked many bursts of laughter by the audience throughout the one hour and a half performance.
If you’re open minded and you would like to try to understand the psychological need of being dominated or dominating – or even dominating while acting like you are dominated –, then you should definitely go watch this play. You will definitely enjoy watching reality and fantasy as they intertwine. On a last note, I want to applaud Jacques Maroun and everyone who took part in this play for being brave enough to come up with such a play in Lebanon, and for placing the woman in a dominant power role in an attempt to defy society’s gender stereotypes.
Update: Here’s the latest and final picture of the mural
ASHEKMAN and MARCH repainted their “To Be Free Or Not” mural in Achrafieh after it was removed by mistake by Beirut’s municipality a couple of weeks ago. I passed by yesterday around 6pm and spotted Omar putting the final touches.
It’s good to hear that Beirut’s municipality took a positive stance concerning this mural and I hope they preserve other decent art works and encourage more talented artists like ASHEKMAN to spread positive messages across the city’s walls.
Lebanon’s architectural heritage is slowly disappearing and Beirut is quickly losing its traditional character as old houses, beautiful villas and Ottoman-style mansions are increasingly being destroyed and replaced with modern skyscrapers. Activists have been campaigning for years to preserve some of that heritage but time is not on their side as historical buildings are not being preserved by the authorities and will become beyond repair at some point.
Having said that, French Designer Benedicte de Vanssay de Blavous Moubarak and her husband Raja moved to Beirut few years ago and became immediately drawn to the unique style of traditional Levantine houses. In an attempt to salvage whatever is left of Lebanon’s disappearing architectural heritage, they began collecting discarded old wrought iron balustrades, railings and window frames from all over Lebanon and turning them into design pieces.
The couple created in 2006 2b design with the mission of “restoring the unseen beauty of the broken” and the name Beyt (House/Home in Hebrew and Arabic) was chosen as the flagship brand name. Their creations are now found in several countries and are sold through different retailers. Moreover, the company hires people with disabilities as well as those marginalized from society in order to transform their lives as well.
Of course the ideal would be to preserve these houses and restore them but unfortunately there are no serious plans to do so and there are many obstacles on the way. BBC made a nice report on 2b design which you can watch [Here]. You can also check out their [website] for further information.
A week ago, Beirut’s municipality removed the beautiful Tabaris mural that was set up by MARCH and ASHEKMAN as part of the campaign to remove “all political slogans” from Beirut. Knowing that ASHEKMAN and March NGO were authorized to draw this graffiti in the first place, they raised the matter to Beirut’s governor Ziad Chebib who admitted that they shouldn’t have erased the graffiti and invited them to meet and get a new permit.
This is great news and I think the governor should keep all beautiful graffiti not just this one, specially ASHEKMAN‘s and Yazan‘s works.
Many thanks to Zaven for raising this important issue on his TV show.
The highly talented ASHEKMAN brothers have been covering the ugly political slogans and stencils from Beirut’s walls way before the Ministry of Interior decided to do so, and they’ve been sending out positive messages through their amazing graffiti murals, Arabic calligraphy, as well as Arabic rap music and street wear.
For those of you who are not familiar with ASHEKMAN, it was established in 2001 by identical twin brothers Mohamed & Omar Kabbani. Recently, Beirut’s municipality decided to remove their “To Be Free Or Not” mural in Achrafieh instead of encouraging and sponsoring young Lebanese artists to remove the ugliness from the city’s walls and replace them with beautiful artwork.
ASHEKMAN are not planning to slowdown anytime soon and have many upcoming murals to paint in Beirut, so stay tuned!
The beautiful Tabaris mural that was painted by the awesome ASHEKMAN brothers was removed today by the Beirut municipality, as part of the campaign to remove “all political slogans” from Beirut. I don’t understand how this graffiti has anything to do with the stupid redundant political slogans that were being removed today, noting that ASHEKMAN and March NGO had received an authorization from Beirut’s governor and the building owner to draw this graffiti. Moreover, Beirut’s municipality should be supporting and sponsoring such positive messages and art works instead of painting over them!
I think we should regroup the soonest in the same place and help ASHEKMAN draw a bigger graffiti.
Check out this hand-draw short movie by Marylin Haddad that beautifully sums up everything we go through in our beloved Lebanon. It’s about a girl called Leila trying to dance in order to survive her daily stressful routines just like each one of us has found a way to relieve himself from all this stress and uncertainty.
Only few days ago, things were relatively calm and peaceful and all of a sudden, we were on the verge of a new war with Israel.
Update: Check out this amazing tribute by Magda Abu-Fadil from The Huffington Post.
Faten Hamama, an iconic Egyptian film star and the “Lady of the Arabic screen” has passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Faten Hamama lived in Beirut and London between 1966 and 1971 as she was being harassed by Egyptian intelligence during that time. She was awarded the “Al-Arz” decoration by the Lebanese President in 2001 and got an honorary doctorate from the American University of Beirut in 2013.
The above work is a tribute by my friend Corinne Martin, a Lebanese-Texan artist currently based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. You can check out her work [here].
Here’s an excerpt from an old movie showing Faten Hamama and Omar el Sharif: