I'm not just a donkey - I'm a terrorist one

Monday, 28 February 2011

Theatre of the Edge: The edge of theatre.

A man who has not been seen in a long time, a man who has recently been the subject of many debates, fights, and some occasional jokes, made his presence onstage on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2010 in a talk/installation about violence and egocentrism.
After a lot of mindless babble, accusations, and self-motivation, this figure of mystery, recently known as didaskalos, posited his initiation of a new form of theatre, his theatre, the Theatre of the Edge. To him, he is a god - and likewise to many of his followers - and he believes his theatre to be a kind of therapy and personality building. He brings people to an epoch of character and maturity, he not only teaches them how to jump and act, but also teaches them about life, and how to become ‘better human beings’ in life. Something I find really fascinating, how people can owe their existence and being to one man! It should be prudent now to explain the reason why this man decided to have this talk.
This man, didaskalos, has been very recently kicked out of an academic institution for punishing one of his actors by burning him with a cigar lighter. Three burns, on the bicep, waist, and thigh - because, of course, three is the charm!
A lot of controversy has followed this act;
Did it really happen?
Was it blown out of proportion?
Is burning wrong?
Is torture wrong?
How can one judge if one did not actually witness this act?
Is it fair for someone to be scandalized just because of one little act?
So many questions, it’s crazy! The puzzling thing about all this is that people now-a-days can’t seem to clearly see wrong from right. Some people seem to think that thinking is not necessary anymore. Some people seem to have nothing to believe in anymore. But enough of contemplations and ambiguity, we come here to talk about theatre and its edge.
A grand concept! A dazzling way of presenting this concept: a scrim, a lighter, a saj, and a very charismatic man onstage. As usual, his charisma filled the theatre he was in. This man talked and talked, every now and then quoting Antonin Artaud, a grand theatre person in history, a man didaskalos admires a lot, I remember from how he used to talk of Artaud in his classes.
Our man, didaskalos, quoted Artaud saying that people must revolt against rules and institutions that are only there to close our minds and bottle up our thoughts. Our man calls for revolting against rules! He did this by reading a lengthy letter written by Artaud to the chancellors of the universities of Europe. Every now and then he would stop and say: “This is Artuad not me” followed by a laughtrack from the audience that starts and stops at the same time. It’s genius when one critiques his own techniques indirectly by putting them in different circumstances, it makes stupid people think he’s wise, but makes smart people see that he’s a hypocrite!
Talking onstage was one of the rules of the Souratian theatre that led to all this fuss! And breaking a Souratian rule has many consequences.
These two men, didaskalos and Artaud, share many things, (or so he would wish): they are both madmen and genuine theatre people, however Artaud was aware of his madness and lived in an asylum for most of his life. Also Artaud never knew he was such a genius and never claimed to have created his own form of theatre; he followed the movement of surrealism, one that many of the world’s greatest artists followed, a movement that no man created, but rather a collection of artists and thinkers. Our man, however, has the nerve to say that he has created his own form of theatre, which he names Souratism: theatre of the Edge.
A theatre that drives people to the edge.
Tests their endurance!
Makes them strong!
Hurts them.
Makes them weak so they become strong.
Kills them.
Makes them fly!
It’s apparent to see how we have reached a real edge.
The edge of a cliff.
The edge of sanity.
It’s funny how people can be dazzled by a man who stands onstage holding a whip saying: “I have a whip!” The lights went down, music faded up, projections from his last play were shown, and he stood there striking it down repeatedly. Even by just listening to the recording of the lecture and to the whip striking the floor again and again, I felt scared. Something was going wrong. Something lurid was stirring in this man’s head. But for the people who saw him playing with the whip that day, one thought crossed their minds as they looked at him in awe: “the man has lost it!”
It’s very funny when people are blinded by one man who puts truth on the edge and lies and lies and lies and lies… until a lie becomes the truth! But then again, didaskalos is a master of rhetoric, the art of using words. He does it so well. He did it so well that day. He boosted up the British accent, used the right words, and let the magic fly! The word is a very dangerous tool. The spoken word. And he uses it so well! Rhetoric was an art that people used to study back in the days of the Greeks and the Romans, even after that. It was the best way for propaganda. Many teachers, generals, dictators, politicians, and leaders used it.
“The boy jumped on the fire!”
Two months ago the whole story didn’t even happen.
One month ago it was part of experimentation.
Three weeks ago it was punishment.
That day, didaskalos bluntly lied and said that the boy himself asked for it and jumped on the lit lighter that happened to be in the director’s hands! Didaskalos didn’t mean to burn him he was merely scaring the boy, but the boy unexpectedly jumped on it! Three times! And didaskalos couldn’t seem to realize that he must turn off the lighter!
But many people have lied in history. Many people have created concepts based on lies. Many people have achieved so much based on lies. Many people have gotten away with kingdoms and empires based on lies. Many people have created cults based on lies. And one man in history led a whole people and country based on one big lie.
I think it is time to stop quoting Artaud and start quoting a man who much more resembles didaskalos, Adolf Hitler.
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”
As I’m writing this I remembered one time in one of Nagy Souraty’s classes when I proposed I work on the character of Adolf Hitler for my acting final and he rejected saying it was not interesting enough. It’s scary to delve into the psychology of a dictator, a person with so much power and control. But I find it very interesting. It is really interesting to see how people can conquer minds with their wit, looks, and charisma.
Mind control.
National Socialism is not a cult-movement—a movement for worship; it is exclusively a 'volkic' political doctrine based upon racial principles. In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship... We will not allow mystically-minded occult folk with a passion for exploring the secrets of the world beyond to steal into our Movement. Such folk are not National Socialists, but something else—in any case something which has nothing to do with us. At the head of our programme there stand no secret surmisings but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief. But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will
- Adolf Hitler: Nuremberg, September 6, 1938
He said: “I kept wondering, why do they hate us so much? It is then I realized that it’s because they don’t understand us.” Us and them. Right and wrong. He laughed and said: “and they say we’re a cult! They really believe it”, but then again none of his supporters (the really radical ones) ever disagree with him, they all adore him, he is able to get two people onstage and remove their shirts and hit each other, he was able to have a TV setup in the Fine Arts lobby with his interview on it repeated over and over, they all sit around the TV watching him with awe and ecstasy, he is able to say in his rehearsals: “whatever I say is godly”, they believe it, they all think like him, some of them walk like him, sit in his chair the way he sits in Gulbenkian, he is able to burn one of is actors, once, twice, three times without them opening their mouths.
Does anyone sense the commonalities?
Mind control.
The little theatre in Masrah Al Madina was full of it that day. It was a pity I couldn’t make it, I really wanted to. I wanted to see the man with the whip!
Nevertheless, I felt really proud, proud of how my friends – a small group of really clever and interesting people – raised very smart questions to didaskalos.
I was very proud of how he cut them off as they spoke and changed the subject.
I was very proud of how they felt that this once mysterious and scary university professor was not scary at all anymore.
I was very proud of how some people removed their sight from them when they were glared at.
I was very proud of how for the first time I knew what it is to be a “dangerous citizen”.

Fuad Halwani


Anonymous said...

I've read two days ago in a daily Lebanese, that dadaskalos's students are marching at the university to get him back. Well, I can never understand their "intelligence", but want to highlight an incident.
One month ago, a teacher in UK was fired because he let his students to go for 20 minutes outside the class and enjoy the snowy weather!!!
Imagine, how silly this reason is BUT how serious is to hold a responsibility!!!
HOW about torturing in purpose! "I assume, the student didn't jump on the lighter by accident!"
Three, years ago, I had taken a class with Dadasakalos,I never liked the teacher's arrogance and impoliteness!! Though I love theater!
BTW, his request for his student to meet in Masrah Madina is quite suspicious and questions the man's morals.
"I think he is fighting back, maybe because he knows that no one EVER would accept him to teach at their institution"

I salute you courageous post!
Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

When I read this story I remembered myself, MY self. when i was a little kid i used to imagine that I was the smartest boy in the world, and that i have superpowers, and that i am serving humanity since 1986 (the year that i was born in). we can all imagine, simply because, just like this story shows, the didaskamos creates an imaginary world, with its own values, ideas, wrongs and rights, and gods. And people imagine with him and adopt these values, ideas, wrongs and rights, and GOD. let them imagine, and let us progress

Bob Hamandi said...

“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few”-Adolph Hitler

Anonymous said...

Some love him with a lot of passion.
and some hate him with a lot of passion.

right or wrong, this man is clearly something. one cannot argue.

Anonymous said...

I would like to "like" this post and the two comments please.

So that's going to be 3 "likes" for me Donkey.

Thank you.

magy tabaja said...

The way the process works is as follows:
The master or the didaskalos says "I'm fine and you're not. But if you follow me we will both be fine, and THEY are not fine".
"I'm better" draws people who are weak, scared and feel inadequate.
They will follow even a big lie because it creates the illusion of safety.

Wake UP

Fatima said...

If this happened in Europe or US, it would turn into a public struggle not to fire the instructor but to close the institution as well!!

Anonymous said...

So you're saying that you're actually afraid for your friends from that man? i do not think so since you do not seem to consider those who like him brainwashed idiots (anything but your friends)

Are you saying that you are afraid for lebanese theater from that man? i doubt the people who do not like sourati will ever like his plays and vice versa if you know what i mean.

Are you saying you are afraid for you COUNTRY from that man? since you have dubbed him the new hitler i suppose you are afraid he starts a new cult annihilating all lebanese cowards... hah! like anyone could get rid of those...

So Fuad... What exactly are you afraid for??? Why do you guys care so much??? the opposite of love is not hate and you have been ANYTHING but indifferent.

Suzi Boutrous Harb said...

anonymous from comment #8 is right... there's something about u FUAD and about your group that i can't understand! why are u so involved in this? are u paid to do this? Does his cult threatens your cult? Do u want to take nagy's place and become the next major production's director? ("ma 7ada bya3te sfouf nagi gheir najy")
Or are u a man who stands up for wrong and does Not accept Lies and that nothing scares u?
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it” A.H
In their case they believe that The young man jumped on the lighter, it's easy, simple now they can repeat it in magazines, on the internet, wherever they wish, but at the end of the day the truth stays the truth.
Keep telling the truh and eventually it will stay The TRUTH

Rayssa Kanso said...

Please comment #8 rephrase your comment I didn't understand anything!!!

I was in Didaskalos’ last talk, and to tell you what Fuad I also had a good amount of laughter that night. For the first few minutes, I thought everyone was laughing for the same reason, which is the absurdity of what was going on. I couldn’t believe that this man was for real! I dunno if I need to add anything about that night, because at some points Souraty who I used to listen to without thinking of anything made me loose interest in most of what he said. The whole talk was about accusing students, teachers, LAU more and more, and isn’t that what weak people do?? His talk proved more and more to me that this man did something wrong.
Fuad I really like Adolf Hitler’s quotes, and the resemblance you made, since there’s something really weird going on concerning the didaskalope story. It’s amazing to see students giving all their energy to one man, one person!! I’m sure there are more humane stories, and unjust situations that need to be questioned and raised. It’s funny to see those students coming to university from early morning making sure that their benches are safe, they start posting their slogans and cardboards… they sit there, and they sit there… they drink tea, they make phone calls to newspapers… some of them go to classes, and some of them don’t, some of them pass 1 hour in gym, but the most important part of their day is those benches and Souraty. At night, after a lot of time of sitting in and drinking tea the Souratian leave the campus taking with them all the work they did for that day. Today I felt really sorry when seeing those students leaving the campus… Anyway, I don’t want to spend more time on this, the whole point for me now is not Nagy, because this man doesn’t mean anything to me anymore… I know who he is, and he doesn’t interest me, my problem is those students, who are supposed to be future artists… where we are all supposed to meet one day against life’s difficulties, injustice, violence torture, war… but what’s happening now is a big question towards many subjects in life… we don’t even seem to know what is moving forward in life, what is violence, and where to stop… many don’t seem to ask questions anymore, or stand for their beliefs… what scares me the most is that some don’t even seem to have beliefs anymore, since all their existence and being is being projected towards one man and his beliefs and thoughts…