Our puppet designer went to the sea to test out some mock-up puppets of fish he made out of wire and trash.
It is difficult to manipulate large puppets in the air, as they will unintentionally catch the wind. Manipulating large scale puppets (non pun intended) in the sea is even more difficult because of water weight. It will take a series of experiments and tests to work out a drainage method which allows the puppeteers to gracefully lift the puppets from under the sea.
Here's a sneak peek!
The next morning, we rose at 530 AM. Outside our staircase, three men were seated on the steps, skillfully making multiple hook bait lines and placing them in large baskets. They were amused by our interest in them and their stories.
We continued down into the port’s café, where several fishermen were having their morning coffee. We met Abu Eli, a 60 year old fisherman. “Fishing is not a job, but a way of life,” he said. His father and his grandfather were fishermen, but he didn’t want his sons to join the trade. “My son is in the army instead. Fishermen are like bums, a dying breed,” he told us. According to him, the biggest problem he faces is illegal fishing. Some fishermen use nets that are too narrow and baby fish get caught. If a 1/2 lira coin passes through, the net is large enough and thus legal. Then he showed us his face and pointed to the goggle marks around his eyes. “ I prefer being in the water, like a fish,” he said with a grin.
We boarded a little boat that had just dock in the port. In the heaps of nets, several fish were still squirming. Abu Eli began plucking fish from the nets and counting the morning catch. He estimated the total catch to be worth 20,000 Lebanese lira (approximately $13 USD). The amount barely covers the cost of gas per trip out to sea.
Abu Eli taught us how to gut a fish, while several hungry cats lingered at our feet, hoping to catch a discarded scrap. As the sun began to shine, the trading began. On their mobile phones, the fishermen began bargaining with restaurant and personal clients. Using an old fashioned scale in the market, they weighed their fish, haggling and shooing away the hungry cats.
As part of our on-site research, we took a trip down to the fishing town of Tyre (‘ Sour’ in Arabic). We went to collect stories and images about fishermen, their lifestyles, and the problems they faced, such as overfishing and trash pollution. All of this information will inform the creation of our next show.
Tyre is famed for its fishing port and ancient Roman and Phoenician ruins peppered around the city and even underwater.
We stayed in a beautiful, 150 year old Lebanese home located in the old Christian quarter, overlooking the port and footsteps away from where the fishermen gathered daily for coffee, cards and trade.
On the first day we met with Lamia, a UN coordinator who oversees the Tyre youth program. She told us about previous events that took place in Tyre to engage youth in recycling. When we told her we were interested in fishermen, she immediately called her good friend Michael, a fisherman.
Michael joined us for a coffee. His main words: “It’s all luck.” The key to finding fish is to follow where birds go to dive for fish. Michael stressed that fishing is the most vulnerable trade in Lebanon. The fishermen do not have a union to protect their wages and their well-being and livelihood is completely dependent upon what the sea offers. It’s all based on luck, weather, the tides, and things beyond their control.
Another story he told us was about the time his friend spotted a two ton tuna fish. It was such a frightening sight that he couldn’t speak for a few minutes. After he regaled this amazing story, they captured the giant tuna, took it on shore and mummified it. It is still here.
Michael invited us to join him in the port the next morning and experience his daily routine as a fisherman, an offer we took up...
About 15 minutes outside of Beirut lies a hidden treasure. Les Merveilles de la Mer is an old Lebanese home converted into an aquarium/ sea museum.
We went to take a closer look at marine life in Lebanon in order to inform our design choices. Our costume designer was interested in the textures and colors of shells found along the Mediterranean while our puppet designer spent hours observing the movements of sea creatures.
It was a fantastic and inspiring mini day trip.
BIM is currently workshopping the 2012 production, a tour that will take place in fishing enclaves along the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon.
We are devising a story that involves movement, puppets and live music. The play will take place in and out of water and touch upon themes of fishermen, sea creatures and the Mediterranean. Moreover, our themes will bring awareness to major problems in Lebanon: the pollution of the marine environment, the lack of recycling and excessive waste. As a result, we are designing a show where all scenery, props & costumes are made from recycled material collected from actual Lebanese shores and trashes.
In the upcoming blog posts, we will share the steps of our research and workshop process.
Denise Maroney (New York City) was awarded $10,000 to workshop an environmental play with Lucien Bourjeily and other Lebanese artists (Beirut, Lebanon), for their upcoming productions in fishing enclaves along the country's coast.
"We are inspired by these talented, forward-thinking artists, who are taking an active role within the international Theatre community-collaborating, experiencing new aesthetics and learning new practices-in order to better connect and engage with their local communities back home," said Teresa Eyring, executive director of Theatre Communications Group.
Full Press Release:
" Sudanese actor and theatre director Ali Mahdi Nouri and French professor Cherif Khaznadar have been awarded the 2010 UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will present them with the prize on 15 April 2011.
Ali Mahdi Nouri founded in 2004 the Al-Bugaa Theatre, which travels around conflict zones in Sudan and stages plays performed by child soldiers and war orphans. His creations, inspired by Sudanese cultural heritage, comprise various narration techniques as well as folklore and pantomime. “This work uses the Arab language and culture – notably songs and stories – as strengths upon which the young actors can rebuild their lives,” underlined the international jury."
Full article: http://artistsspeakout.com/2011/04/sudanese-and-french-theater-directors-to-receive-2010-unesco-sharjah-prize-for-arab-culture/
“Ecology is an important theme in the European culture, and we wanted to start our activity in Lebanon by promoting this theme, which is part of the European policy,” EUNIC President Dan Stoenescu told NOW Extra.
The festival, organized in cooperation with Lebanese environmental NGO IndyAct and the EU Delegation in Lebanon, brought together artists from across Europe and Lebanon in an event designed to raise awareness on environmental protection. The main attractions were the 30-meter-long wall where Lebanese, German and British graffiti artists depicted climate change using eco-paint; and the stage where actors and musicians also tried to send the green-your-culture message to young Lebanese.
“We need the Arabs and Lebanese to start caring about the environment in their day-to-day life and culture,” said IndyACT’s Ali Fakhri. “Environmental aspects such as climate change have the greatest influence on our needs – including food – on our health and economy,” he added."
To see full article, visit www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=271955