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We are an ensemble of International and Lebanese artists who create free, site specific, theatrical performances across Lebanon.


Our performance on the Corniche, Beirut's sea-side boardwalk (without the boards) was unique in that we were able to requisition a professional and critically acclaimed sound team to help our actors' voices rise above the din created by traffic and the crashing waves. This was a great blessing for the actors who often struggle to make every aspect of the plays understood to all. It was also especially useful this performance which lasted for much longer than usual as Raouf, in his capacity as Tanbouri, allowed for the interactive nature of the play to rise to a whole new level.

I would say more children were brought up on 'stage' than ever before and at some points were given the opportunity to go on for much longer than usual, both giving suggestions, and just speaking to the actors unprovoked. One child in particular had some audience members convinced that he was a part of a publicity ploy as he was adorably outspoken throughout the play. He even put his English skills to the test when the character Tanbouri decided to pretend that he didnt understand the Greenpeace character's Arabic at all when she is yelling at him for throwing his old shoes in the recycling bin (she is supposed to be foreign and speak broken Arabic so she normally pronounces his name Tandoori for example and after this mis-speak they then converse in Arabic; this performance however, Raouf (Tanbouri) decided to ask the young boy to translate all of her questions and their dialogue expanded enormously).

The nearly 500 spectators (we counted this time!) seemed thoroughly amused and touched by our performances.


We arrived back from Hermel on Sunday, with little time to prepare for our second performance of the weekend in Centre Ville, a section of Beirut at the heart of the city (hence its name 'town center'; its location is in fact the old, prewar centre of Beirut). As Denise had only received permission from the parliamentary offices to perform there four days prior to the show, we were entirely unsure whether anyone would attend, given that no prior advertising had been done. Thus, our first performance in Beirut was to be authentic 'street theatre.' As Centre Ville is situated next to a number of important businesses as well as the Parliament itself, any vehicular traffic around the area we were to perform (the landmark clock tower) is forbidden. So, the movement of props, especially the giant book which serves as the backbone of our mis en scene, from the road to the heart of Centre Ville made for a particularly challenging set up.

To sharpen our already high strung nerves further, there happened to be a wedding going at our performance site, exactly at the time we were supposed to commence. As such, we had to push back our starting time about an hour while we waited for the bride and groom to emerge, take their wedding photos, and drive off. Fortunately they were not bothered by our set up very near their church of choice and were even intrigued by our man on stilts, Raouf, even requesting a photo opp with him!

Our worries that we would not have a significant audience subsided once a large crowd had gathered, and continued gathering, for our first performance. Once the performance got underway, it was clear that the general energy was optimal, with passers by of all ages being intrigued and staying on throughout our first play. Struck by similar anxiety as the crowd dissipated during our five minute intermission, we were once again reassured when an even larger crowd gathered for our second show. All in all, a wonderful first performance in Beirut....stay tuned for our next Beirut showcase this coming Sunday!


The seventh show in Hermel was preceded by a 2-night stay in a children's campsite in the Hermel Jurd - the hillsides surrounding the city - where the whole terrain pervaded with natural beauty of a biblical degree. After a beautiful sunset, a million stars pierced the night sky, and the mist of the asteroid belt that encompassed our heavenly dome painted a hazy background for the meteor showers that shot through our stay there.The workshop alternated between the library in Hermel and the campsite. Our free time was spent between playing with the kids and sitting in the shade of a tree, gazing at hillsides that peacefully rolled into the horizon.

Oh, and the performance was great too. The kids from the camp all attended, as well as the authors of the stories upon which the plays were adapted! After finishing with the play and getting back to the camp, the performers were saluted with a frenzy of clapping and cheering.
As Books in Motion partially functions in partnership with Maison du Livre, the Maison extended an invitation to anyone from our production interested in working at their own children's writing workshop at a camp in the mountains of Hermel, a region at the very northern tip of the country. The workshop was composed of a select few children from various regions throughout Lebanon, who had demonstrated a particular interest or talent in creative writing as assessed by their local librarians. A Books in Motion colleague, Anas Al-Salah, and I were indeed interested. Accordingly, we brainstormed potential activities to engage in with the children, bought the necessary supplies, and arrived at the camp on Thursday ready to participate. In total, close to 30 children (from 9-15 years of age) attended, 5 from each of the 6 regions participating.

The first day we arrived too late to commence the arts and crafts activities we had planned, so we just played some outdoor games with the kids. After dinner we gathered around a campfire and each group of children performed a skit, either representing their hometown, or just telling the group a bit about themselves (see videos). Friday we were able to introduce our activity; the creation of bookmarks, which we felt was particularly suited to the theme of the workshop. The alternative (either for those who did not want to complete bookmarks or for those having finished creating a bookmark and wishing to create something else) was to make pictures of the sea. This way, the children could hold up their own pictures at the time during the play 'What is the color of the Sea' where we normally distribute our own versions of these pictures to metaphorically illustrate the photos of the sea taken by one of the characters in the play. As some of the children were from regions where our play had already debuted, there was a resounding enthusiasm, both to create these pictures, and also to create depictions of our other play, 'The Slippers of Tanbouri'.

The rest of the troupe made the long drive to Hermel two days later for their Saturday evening performance, stopping for a traditional regional meal along the way (see photos). One notable innovation in our second play, 'Tanbouri' occurred when Tanbouri decided to run away from the character of a young girl attacked by his shoes and hide in the audience for her to seek him out. Raouf also called on the author of 'Tanbouri' to participate in the play at one point. Further, there happened to be a young girl in a wheelchair in the audience, which made for a particularly touching interactive performance when she was called up at one point during 'What Is The Color of the Sea?' as well. After the show, she approached the actress, Lama, which plays the role of Hasmig, a girl in a wheelchair to tell her how moved she was by her particularly realistic portrayal of a handicapped person. This really warmed our hearts as the characters in our play were specifically modeled to represent a diverse demographic.

While dining by the river post show, the actors came to the consensus that despite the lack of electricity (particular common in more remote ares of the country, like Hermel, although a frequent, albeit short lived occurrence -usually only a few minutes- throughout the country today; a long term result of of the civil and subsequent war(s)) the show was one of the best so far, energy abounding from both the actors and the crowd. Having stayed two nights at the mountain camp in Hermel, Anas and I welcomed the opportunity to join the rest of the actors at an eco lodge in Quaiche (a self sustaining town 30 minutes from Hermel) for the third and last night in the region.


This week's performance took place in the southern town of Jezzine, which, by the way, wins the BIM Prize for Best Summer Weather Ever!
Jezzine is located 22 km from Saidon (Saida, Sidon) and famous for its beautiful landscape and 40m high waterfalls. Set in a lush mountainous enclave of Lebanon, Jezzine is home to the largest pine reserve in the Middle East. Performing there was literally a breath of fresh air as the altitude of 950 meters made for a much cooler atmosphere, easing the toils of preparation.

For this engagement, we were afraid the interactive element would be more difficult to maintain since the municipality had set up a rather high stage for us to perform on. Our solution was to have our driver, Marwan, who also serves as a general "go-to-guy" for the project, lift the children onto the stage once selected by the character of Tanbouri.

The children enjoyed the increased interaction so much that they got quite out of hand at times, not unlike during previous performances! They crowded the bottom of the stage so enthusiastically that at one point Tanbouri (actor Raouf Khelifa) had to stop the performance and until everyone took their seats once more! Nonetheless, this made for a deeply spirited viewing throughout and was a pleasure to behold from the producers' vantage point.

The family of the municipality invited us to their beautiful 150 year old manor (where many famous Lebanese artists would stay from 1918-1975, a period during which the home served as a hotel and mountain summer resort) for a relaxed drink to unwind after the show had ended, after which we made our way to the nearby home village (within the county of Jezzine) of one of our actors, Lama Dawood. There we enjoyed a delectable barbecue meal prepared by her very hospitable father and step mother and chatted into the wee hours of the night over delicious mint tea and traditional desserts, such as watermelon and cactus. We awoke at 7 am to get an early start and were able to take in the breath taking country side on the way back to Beirut, stopping at an amazing pastry shop, Al-Baba, for a scrumptious breakfast!


Our performance in Amioun took place during the village summer festival. The festival was held in the old city and in order to set up properly the area was largely barred from car traffic, which necessitated Denise and I arriving several hours prior to the actors in order to accompany the BIM van and unload all props and materials on arrival. The librarian there kindly took us to a delicious late lunch to pass the time.

As for the show itself, it was unique in that we were given access to sound! All the actors shared a microphone and huge speakers on either side of the stage greatly enhanced the audience's audio pleasure. Lights were another added bonus, giving the performance a fairy tale like quality for the second half of the event once dusk had set in. This quality was furthered when, at the pause between the two pieces, two childrens' mascots made their way into the performance space to entertain the children.

A new twist emerged during Tanbouri: Mohammad ( actor playing the fisherman) decided that the fisherman must be taken to the hospital in an ambulance after having smelled Tanbouri's old shoes rather than simply passing out as in the first few showings. The audience was thoroughly amused, laughing particularly hard at this point, and so the addition was solidified and repeated the next day at Jezzine's staging.

After the show, we traveled back to Beirut and the actors and management gathered at Kabab ji, a Lebanese fast food restaurant of superior quality, for a feast to recharge our batteries and discuss the innovations of the show in preparation for the next day's performance!


Our performance in Aley was staged with the backdrop of old ruins near the town's local library, sharing a building with the town's black belt academy. It was a very picturesque environment with some of the young children in traditional Druze garb (white scarfs/hats). Overall it was a very intriguing mix of traditional and modern, domestic and foreign: Some of the the children we spoke to while giving out stickers were actually from Indiana, USA!

This show took an increasingly interactive turn for this staging, with more children being pulled in for slightly longer periods than before and also several children being called up together rather than individually...even Denise was selected to make a stage appearance (see photos). Improv was rife and real; we had refurbished Tanbouri's 'new' pair of shoes (originally simply spray painted gold) with gold glitter and chose not to tell the actor who plays Tanbouri prior to the show, effectively revealing them for the first time during the performance.

In all, our trip to Aley was memorable for its eclectic audience, beautiful natural setting and the various expansions within the plays themselves.


Our third run of 'What Is the Color of the Sea?' and 'The Slippers of Tambouri' was held in the mountain town of Kobayat. This was a unique performance with regard to the 'street theatre' nature of Books in Motion as we did not actually perform on the street, but rather in the local school courtyard. This made for a much more organized viewing, where children and parents filled their reserved rows with ease.

And although not as 'interactive' in terms of interacting directly with local inhabitants who happen to pass by or attend the play, the interaction with the children in the audience was slightly enhanced as the sound quality was improved and the actors could move more freely and thus improvise and draw out scenes a bit further.


For our second Books in Motion performance we traveled to the very southern part of Lebanon and set up camp in Bint Jbeil.

Once a thriving town, it has now been reduced to 10% of its former infrastructure; a result of the war with Israel in 2006. We were able to speak with some residents who had grown up in the city and recently undertook the complete reconstruction of their childhood homes. Most of the buildings now standing in the area have been completely rebuilt or renovated (slightly giving the impression of a development in silicon valley where a weird assortment of architectural styles live in imposed harmony).

Regardless, the cultural heritage of the place remains intact. One cannot help but hear the whispers of antiquity resounding in the beautiful countryside!

The audience of children was much calmer than that at our opening weekend, a reflection of the generally more somber way of life there vis a vis Tyre or Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. Nevertheless, the audience (again composed of both adults as well as children) was equally as excitable as that in Tyre and appeared to be thoroughly amused by our production. It certainly warmed the heart to bring new life and love to a place sure to be steeped in hard times for some time to come


The opening performance of Books in Motion began at 7 pm, Saturday, July 11 in Tyre (also known as 'Sour' in Arabic). Tyre is a beautiful seaside town known for its charming port and old city.

After setting up on the corniche (seaside boardwalk), the actors gave an enthusiastic performance and the children were ecstatic...The actors were literally overwhelmed with small people eager to be ever closer to the action, so we set up a little makeshift barrier of rope. The children's pleasure was unabated by the enforced distancing and the show went on as smoothly as ever. And the children weren't the only ones enjoying the performance: their parents and even adult passersby were quite intrigued and most stayed for the duration of the two shows.

Saturday night, after our very first show, producer Denise Maroney arranged for the cast and crew to dine at an intimate seaside restaurant, Cafe Fanar, specializing in fresh fish and excellent music. It was a wonderful celebration of all the hard work put into the production going back to February 2009. It doesn't get any better than bringing people together through art, making them smile, dining on delectable food, and dancing to the beats of a very talented DJ...after which we were able to cool off in the welcoming waves of the mediterranean under a breathtaking night sky.....a lovely opening weekend in all!


Traveling Theatre Festival Brings Lebanese Literature to the Public Through Free Street Performances

Street theatre initiative Books in Motion will tour Lebanon this summer performing for in outdoor spaces, bringing an innovative and enriching & cultural experience that is widely accessible.

Beirut, Lebanon (Books in Motion) July 3, 2009 -- On July 11th an early evening theatre performance at the Gemmal Corniche in Tyre will launch Books in Motion, an exciting and avant-garde initiative exploring Lebanese literature through free street performance. “The principal mission is to create free, street theatre in order to explore Lebanese literature,” said Denise Maroney, producer of Books in Motion. Two extraordinary works of youth literature by Lebanese authors were selected by the dynamic creative team behind Books in Motion, adapted into plays in Arabic and will now come to life on stage.

What is the Color of the Sea by Nadine Touma and The Slippers of Tanbouri by Fatima Charafeddine will be performed across Lebanon, directed by the critically acclaimed Lucien Bourjeilly.† The Books in Motion company of actors are mostly university students and under Bourjeilly’s direction will explore methods of improvisation and circus techniques to create playful and interactive theatre. Beginning in Tyre, this traveling theatre festival will tour the country, performing these remarkable plays free of charge in outdoor and public venues. Books in Motion will move across Bint Jbeil, Kobayet, Aley, Aimoun and Hermel, before ending the tour with performances on Beirut’s Corniche Al-Manara on the 23rd of August. While Lebanon has no shortage of artistic festivals and initiatives, rarely are these cultural events equally accessible to the entire population.

“Often these events require tickets and tickets are expensive. The reality is that performance then becomes accessible only to a small group of people,” Maroney explained. By contrast, Books in Motion renders quality theatre accessible to a much wider stratum of the Lebanese population, allowing the general public to partake in this enriching experience. This first of its kind traveling theatre festival is collaboration between the UNESCO World Book Capital City Festival, La Maison du Livre in partnership with the NYC Children’s Theatre Company and the generous support of the Theatre Communications Group. †

About Books in Motion:
During the summer of 2008 Denise Maroney became interested in the idea of creating a theatre festival open to the general public in Lebanon, free of charge. After mentioning this to friends and colleagues one evening, the group’s dynamic discussion produced the initial concept of Books in Motion.

Maroney received a grant from the Theatre Communications Group in New York to work on a theatre project in Beirut, and used the opportunity to collaborate with Lebanese artists and create Books in Motion; a festival truly for the public. Maroney and Yasmina Jraissati, Literary Director of Books in Motion, read every book written by Lebanese authors in the Centre National de la Literature pour la Jeunesse in Paris, before selecting what they felt were the most appropriate works for the project.

Cast: Rauf Khelifa, Anas Al Saleh, Sarah Berjawi, Lama Dawood, Jessy Daou and Mohammad Hamzi
Production Design: Yasmine Agha, Nicolas Khattar, Ahmad Mahfouz, Laura Pharaon
Stage Manager: Ingrid Tautal
Production Management: Alexandra Schneider, Roy Baladi
Assistant Producer: Aline Sara
Logo Design: Edwin Baladi

Tyre: 11/7/09, 12/7/09 at 7 PM on the Gemmel Corniche of the Old City
Bint Jbeil:18/7/09, 6:30 PM on Main Street Sidewalk
Kobayet: 25/7/09, 6:30 PM in Local Courtyard
Aley: 30/7/09, 31/7/09 at 7 PM, in the ruins of an old Lebanese home near the public library
Amioun: 7/8/09, 7 PM, in a courtyard in the center of the old city
Jezzine: 8/8/09, 7 pm, Main street in front of the municipality
Hermel: 15/8/09, 7 PM, Courtyard and fountain of the local Serail
Downtown Beirut: 16/08/09, 7 pm Place d'Etoile, in front of the clocktower
Becharre: 29/8/09, 7pm , public street , site of local festival
Beirut: 23/8/09, 7 PM, Corniche Al Manara