September 2007-June 2008
Beirut, Bint Jbeil, Glasgow
" What is it like being inside an explosion? What does the moment of explosion feel like? What do we see? What do we hear? How do we move? Do we try and run away, or is it a moment of fatality, where we stand, and stare into what’s coming? Is being killed by a bomb, equivalent to being killed by a man? Where is the man? What does he feel, and what does he see? That noise! That sound of anticipation. Every noise could be your death, but only one of them will finally kill you. It is, in a way, like a reversed lottery. A certain number of people will die, and a certain number will survive. An unearned prolonged life. Do you ever really survive a bomb raid? Surviving by mere co-ordinates."
Bint Jbeil, in development since autumn 2006, reached the next stage when the NTS provided three weeks rehearsal and three work-in-progress showings at the Arches Theatre in Glasgow. The piece presents the lives of two survivors of a direct rocket attack on their house in Southern Lebanon, as they attempt to bury and then live with the rotting corpses of their two friends during the last 11 days of the 2006 war. The two dead ones exist as spirits who provide an ironic commentary on the attempts of the living to make sense of their situation. For Kholoud, all that matters is her ascent to heaven and a glorious martyrdom, however this is not possible if they are not buried properly and with the correct Shia rituals. However for Eddie, he is not at all sure that this heaven exists.
" After all the prayers one knows are finished, what does one do in the presence of a corpse?."
For Tarek and Rita, those left behind, the meaning of the corpses shifts as their house degenerates into a storm of flies and hellish, gut-wrenching stench. Eventually the survivors transcend their situation into a kind of liberating madness, where the corpses take on the character of the surrounding landscape and finally Tarek and Rita fight back against their aerial tormentors, like children in a war-game.
" I see motifs on their skin, blossoming blisters with flaring red wounds and yellow ovaries like rock roses. Their bodies are a secret that only we know. They perished without ceremony, without washing, without burial."
Bint Jbeil featured four outstanding actors from Lebanon: Rita Khawand, Tarek El Bacha, Kholoud Nasser and Edmund Haddad. It was co-directed by Saseen Kawzally and Ben Harrison with choreography by Fleur Darkin, design by Becky Minto, composition by Philip Pinsky, video design by Tim Reid and and light by Paul Claydon.