Sharjah Art Foundation returns for second season; events, dates, timings revealed

Following the success of last year’s edition, the programme has announced eight performances

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Bait Al Serkal. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation (Motaz Mawid).
Bait Al Serkal. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation (Motaz Mawid).

Published: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 11:06 AM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 4:52 PM

Sharjah Art Foundation announced the second season of Perform Sharjah, inviting the community to encounter new experiences while exploring the heritage houses and art spaces of the city.

Following the success of last year’s edition, the programme returns for its second season with eight performances, presented across Sharjah from 19 October, 2023 until 11 February, 2024. Curated by Director of Performance and Senior Curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh, this year’s compelling line-up includes performers from different artistic fields and disciplines.

While the first season presented performances in streets and squares, the second edition engages with and reflects on the extensive urban development project that began 30 years ago in Sharjah to restore, rehabilitate and rebuild the historical area of the city with art and culture at its centre.

In parallel with the preservation of heritage, this project prioritised the construction of infrastructure for art and cultural activities and events. Many buildings were repurposed as both meeting places for intellectuals, artists, poets, writers and theatre makers and spaces where they could share their creations with the public.

Mostly staged in these restored heritage houses and spaces, the second season of Perform Sharjah takes audiences on an artistic journey across the city that starts and ends in its historical centre, a vital space in the imagination of its inhabitants and their daily life.

The programme presents works that engage with transmitted heritage and modern archives from the last few decades. It examines their role in the contemporary imagination and focuses on how artists explore issues of identity, cultural particulars, epistemology and alternative histories.

The performances for the second season include the following:

Metamorphosis #2 by Essia Jaïbi and Jalila Baccar

(19–22 October 2023, Dar Al Nadwa, Calligraphy Square)

In Metamorphosis #2, Essia Jaïbi revisits the memories seared into her mind since childhood. She locks up her mother, Jalila Baccar, in the glass-walled dressing room of an imagined theatre and pressures her to address the audience.

Devised as a confrontation between two generations, the performance tackles art, theatre and cultural activism that evolve into a critique of Tunisia’s political, cultural, economic, environmental and healthcare systems as well as the rights of minorities and people with disabilities.

Alongside the performance, Baccar will conduct a masterclass for professional actors from the UAE and the wider Gulf region. She will work intensively with the participants and offer instructions in acting through readings from her first script as a playwright. In Search of Aïda debuted in 1998 during an event organised by the Beirut Theatre to commemorate 50 years of the Nakba. In the play, she shares the story of her search for her missing Palestinian friend Aïda.

Now, 25 years after that first performance, Baccar will train young actors to read her epic text, which highlights the ongoing tragedy endured by Palestinians, both inside and outside Palestine. The masterclass will conclude with a presentation open to the public.

The Return by Rayyane Tabet

27, 28 and 29 October 2023; 24 and 25, 26 November 2023; 3 and 4 February 2024 The Flying Saucer

The Return traces the 50-year journey of a marble sculpture depicting a bull’s head, using interviews as well as inventory lists, photographs, legal documents and other evidence presented to the New York Supreme Court from investigations that lasted for years.

Eventually restituted to Lebanon, the sculpture is now on display at the National Museum in Beirut.

Hunkaro by Mohit Takalkar co-presented by Ishara Art Foundation

4 and 5 November 2023, Calligraphy Square

In modern society, where listening to others is often replaced with the consumption of visual media, Hunkaro — meaning ‘verbal affirmation’ in Marathi — invites the audience to practise the precious gift of attention through active, participatory listening.

The performance interweaves three stories of human trials and tribulations, tied together by the vital importance of hope and the impossibility of life without it. Using traditional singing and vocal techniques, the stories are narrated in different styles, languages and dialects by six professional actors.

In the absence of musical instruments, the performers emphasise the aesthetic value of language and the importance of the spoken word.

Singing Youth by Judit Böröcz, Bence György Pálinkás and Máté Szigeti

5 and 6 January 2024, Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square

Representing three youths, Singing Youth is a larger-than-life memorial statue by Greek sculptor Memos Makris, a political refugee in Hungary. In 1953, the statue was installed in front of a sports stadium in Budapest, where it still stands today, having survived the collapse of communism and later the demolition of the stadium and the building of a new one in its place.

In this acapella performance, also titled Singing Youth, a theatre maker, visual artist and composer team up to bring the sculpture to life. Composed of excerpts from newspaper articles, interviews and statements made by politicians over the years, the lyrics present the sculpture as a witness to political upheaval, current affairs and the use of arts and sports for political ends.

4 by Tao Ye

7 January 2024, Sharjah Performing Arts Academy

Tao Ye’s choreographic works explore the potential of the human body beyond the limitations of representation or dramaturgical narrative. In his performance titled 4, the choreography is abstract, with the bodies expressing pure phenomenal movement.

A quartet of fluid bodies flows in powerfully controlled movements around a magnetic central point. Relentlessly, they perform a fixed pattern of movements, as if seeking to achieve oneness. The central point keeps them together, but they cannot breach the distance between them. Minimal shifts in movement are masterfully built in throughout the performance, drawing the audience into a slowly growing trance. The music features brisk and energetic voices beating against the sound of a plaintive string instrument, generating a powerful energy that stimulates the anonymous figures moving on the bright white stage.

Perhaps all the dragons by Berlin

13 January–4 February 2024, Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square

Perhaps All the Dragons puts an interesting spin on the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory — the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other.

In an intimate setting, spectators are seated at a large oval table, each facing a single screen. Seemingly ordinary people appear on their screens, each narrating an unusual but true story in a filmed monologue — a philosophic proposition, a scientific detail or an anecdote. The themes brought up in these stories are eclectic — together, they balance on the edge of believability.

Libya by Radouan Mriziga

27 January 2024, Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square

In Libya, Radouan Mriziga collaborates with dancers to elaborate on trans-generational shared histories and epistemologies from an amazigh perspective, where the memories of the body play a pivotal role.

North African music, dance, landscapes and cave paintings depicting prehistoric dance moves are among the interconnected elements that inform a complex choreographic adventure. Layers of meaning are uncovered before us, drawing the features of an imagined, shared future from an amazigh point of view.

Perhaps Here by various artists

9—11 February 2024, Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square

Borrowing its title from Khulood Al Mualla’s fourth book of poetry Rubbama Huna, Perhaps Here explores the orbits of contemporary imagination through a variety of live performances. This event will feature artists from diverse disciplines who will share their works with the public, inviting audiences to experience something that could either be intellectual, emotional or aesthetic in nature.

Over three days, 16 theatre makers, contemporary dancers, and installation and video artists as well as poets and writers will be performing their works simultaneously on repeat throughout the evening in a marathon of artistic productions. Audience members can select between four and six short shows (10 to 20 minutes each) to attend per night.

In conjunction with the performances, Perform Sharjah will offer a wide range of learning opportunities in theatre and performance through workshops and talks led by participating artists with local partners and cultural practitioners.

Admission is free — however, prior booking is required. Tickets can be booked at the box office in Al Mureijah Square, performance venues or on the website.


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