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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!