Fall Major Theater Production: 1975-2019
Irwin Hall Auditorium, Beirut campus
LAU proudly presents the fall major theater production 1975-2019, directed by Lina Abyad, adapted from the novel The School of War by Alexandre Najjar.
Word of the Director Lina Abyad:
The School of War by Alexander Najjar is the third text of this author that I stage after The Unexpected (2018) and Mr. Bchara”(2019).
This text is not a play but a novel written by Najjar in 1999.
What I liked in this text is the recollection of everyday life during the war. The small little things.
Najjar’s text was a challenge for us, at all levels. Some stories take place in the privacy of a living room, others at a checkpoint, some in the streets of Beirut, the infamous Ring, a sunny garden or in a neighborhood cinema turned into a shelter.
The characters are multiple and colorful: a young man in love, a revenger militia man, hooded young men insane and full of rage, drivers willing to do anything to earn their daily bread, coward snipers and nostalgic teachers. Also a mother fights to maintain a semblance of a normal life and a father who works even when the world around him is collapsing.
From the start, our decision was clear: We did not want a staging that would plunge us into the 80s. We did not want a realistic reconstruction of this war, we did not want to present on stage live portraits of the actors and the victims of the war.
We wanted to explore the ways to tell the war today.
We wanted first to find a frame that would enable these diverse characters to evoke their memories of the war.
Tell the war.
Tell the memories.
This was our focus.
We did not want to indulge in the circus nor the folklore of the war.
The space is that of a contemporary art gallery. An artist has created an installation evoking her interpretation of the Lebanese Civil War. She also installed two tape recorders with a small card: “Share with us a memory of what you have experienced during the Lebanese Civil War. Press the red button RECORD. Thank you! (You don’t need to say your name)”
The strength of Najjar’s text lies in its simplicity, in the small details of the dailies of the war. Details that have made our lives a long ordeal. We still remember those little things that provoked in us thundering fears, unexpected joys and, always, the feeling of an irrevocable waste.
I wrote the above before the events of October 17.
Today, and after the beginning of the revolution, it became clear that the civil war is a trap in which the Lebanese will not fall into. Ever again. The characters of the play have invaded the squares, they shout, they protest, they discuss and on their way they pass through this art gallery in which a piece of art about the Lebanese Civil War is exhibited. The play now is a celebration of the end of the war.
Alexandre Najjar’s text is titled The School of War. Before October 17, we had titled the piece Don’t be Afraid Darling, These are Fireworks. Today, we proudly present 1975-2019.
May we live in peace!
For more information: Tel: 01-78 64 64 / 03-79 13 14 ext.1172