A Gathering that Alienated Some

In a fully-packed auditorium the Austrian Lalish Theater commenced No Shadow II, their theatrical piece- or their "perfomative gathering" as they like to call it- at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday the 11th of October 2008 at the Creative Centre of Art, Opera House.

The small and cozy black box auditorium seemed fit for a perfomance that would promise an interaction with the audiences surrounding the tow players- or "celebrant"- from all sides. Befor the beginning of the performance, the black stage was meticulously organized, with neatly-placed materials of a contrasting white color; they seemed like scattered bowls filled with flour, piles of white towels, as well as a straight line and a circel made of sugar cubes.

In their English program notes, the directors Shamal Amin and Nigar Hasib say, "we don´t want to make theatre in the usual sense of the word". They explain that their work "leads to the discovery of a new fusion of voice, movement and life as a whole." It is true that this theatrical piece was differnt from theatre in the usual sense, for as the performance begins, the actress an actor (celebrants)do not engage in dialogue. Instead, they chant back and forth in language unknown to the audience members -a language that the directors refer to as "non-linguistic language."

The "celebrants" proceed with their chating interactions -along with occasional eye-contact with the audience. As they sing their movement through, they also draw on the black stage with the white powder (what I think is flour) creating figures and symbols similar to the drawings of primitive culture. After just 30 minites, the "performative gatherin" wich explored ritualistic movements, chating, and drawing, comes abruptly to an end, leaving behind a rather bewildered audience that was not much of a "participant" in this experience; rather, more of an "observer".

The Austrian piece is based on impressive theoretical concepts for experimentation with ritual in relation to the voice, and the body. However, the "performative gathering" may not have been able to fully transmit such ideas; an interesting experience, but something seemed to have been "lost in translation", at least for this reviewer.

Areeg Ibrahim
The Experimenatl; The English-language daily of the twentieth Cairo International festival for Experimental Theatre No. 4-  Oct. 13, 2008