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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Dubai-based Star Too’s production Why Cross combines majlis and mythology

The Dubai-based experimental theatre group Star Too puts on a new, thought-provoking play, titled Why Cross, this weekend.
A scene from the Star Too production Why Cross. Courtesy Sol Abiad
A scene from the Star Too production Why Cross. Courtesy Sol Abiad

For the Dubai-based theatre company Star Too, there is no such thing as a passive audience. When they take the stage with their seventh production Why Cross this weekend, the audience will be sitting inside a cloth box that is an extension of the stage.

The experimental theatre group, known for shows that present symbolic concepts through physical theatre, will tell a story woven around the mythical female archetype Lilith – known as the wife of the Biblical character Adam – represented as different characters across literature through the ages.

“She is an interesting character to work with,” says Sol Abiad, the founder of Star Too and producer of the show. “But knowledge about her is blurry. You see this mythological figure in literature and as motifs.”

The play, which Abiad calls a work in progress, will have six actors present a piece that “provides a case for healthy chaos”.

“Lilith stands for someone who disturbs the balances,” explains Abiad. “I guess ‘crossing’ is something we have to do to rock the boat and rocking the boat is the only way to progress. During our brainstorming session, we decided we could portray that through a relatively obscure figure, Lilith, who represents an idea that disturbs the balance.

“We will keep it funny and abstract. Sometimes it won’t be clear to the audience, but that is on purpose.”

The unconventional play will begin with a demonstration for the audience, seated at each of the four corners of the cross-shaped stage. The demo will lead to a 45-minute presentation using multimedia and projectors and will end with an audience discussion.

“The audience will be sitting in a white majlis as we break down the imaginary fourth wall that is trademark of traditional theatre,” says Abiad. “We immerse them into the action.”

The actors won’t use props. “We only use sticks and fabric to shape things. If I have an idea, say, to show a boat, we use our bodies to create one on stage.”

Abaid says their kind of theatre is open to individual interpretation.

“There is no right or wrong answer here,” she stresses. “We will explore a question and want people to come up with their own understanding.”

Why Cross is at Icon Art Production warehouse, Al Quoz, at 8pm on May 9 and 10. Entry is free; email info@startoodubai.com to book seats

aahmed@thenational.ae