Project Presentation: HamletMachine
Zoukak Sidewalks 2018 - The Festival presents:
Installation - part of Zoukak's Theatre Mentorship Program
By Lena Osseyran
Sunday 11 November 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at the French Institute of Beirut
Tickets are available through ihjoz.com and at the door
Lena Osseyran’s theatrical installation is based on Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine, written in 1977. The original text, by a German writer who considered himself a black sheep of the two parts of Germany, is clear proof of the disintegration of German history and the dream of revolution. Inspired by his stay in the United States, Heiner Müller expresses his newly-formed perspective on modern life in the two phantasmagorias of Hamletmachine: the first literary, the second political.
The work features social, historical, and political figures. Monologues and soliloquies take place in different locations, starting at a national funeral in Budapest and ending in phantasmagorical settings like labyrinths, prisons and abysses. Müller introduces characters from world literature such as Ophelia, Electra, Hamlet, Richard III and Macbeth. He also references historical personalities including Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, as well as others that remain intentionally anonymous, such as Laszlo Rajk, Rosa Luxembourg, the Mansion family, Suzan Atkins, Ulrike Meinhof, Inge Müller and even Heiner Müller himself. Müller’s play is distinguished by its internal and social conflicts that express a sense of duality, as well as its intertextuality and ambiguous signs. Müller extracts lengthy passages of text from Shakespeare and T.S Eliot. This post-dramatic work speaks about forced social structures, the ugliness of our modern world, and alludes to fragmented spaces, places, images, and concepts.
Osseyran’s adaption puts forth a dream of a destructive mother who devours humanity, resulting in a hybrid species, a metal/human structure: Hamletmachine. Sounds and visuals enter into a dichotomous relationship where illusion is the norm. Human beings can experience conflicts and dilemmas, yet nothing is real. These phantom places are fertile grounds where history and legend intersect, but no stories are told. Hamletmachine imprisons humanity in breeding nests of males and females, then absorbs everything all over again into her abysses. Ophelia transforms into Electra, the apocalyptic machine that destroys the world.
This dystopian world is mirrored in the Arab region at present, where classical notions of leadership are crumbling. It underlines our fundamentally flawed conceptualization of ideology and its usefulness in achieving progress. Perhaps dreaming of destroying everything would be a better survival mechanism for human evolution. Physical barriers would be abandoned, and no-one would be a refugee.
Written by Heiner Müller’s text
Adapted and Directed by Lena Osseyran
Performed by Riwa Houssami
Supported by Zoukak Theater Company within the Zoukak Theatre Mentorship Program and Production Support grant
Lena Osseyran graduated in architecture from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) in 2016, and in theatre from the Lebanese University, Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture, in 2018. Her interests in architecture and theatre have contributed to her academic activities. During her studies, Osseyran explored purgatory as an intersection focused on the body, emotions and the aesthetic experience in space. Osseyran has also won academic awards in the field of architecture, including one from the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut.
In 2018, she adapted and directed Hamletmachine, a play by Heiner Müller, and was a participant in Zoukak's Theatre Mentorship Program.
Osseyran is interested in design and emotions, and combining contemporary theories from architecture and theatre methods. She is also interested in understanding the visual and kinesthetic perception of the audience, through the discovery of imaginary spaces, and their representation in performances.
Zoukak Sidewalks – The festival 2018 is supported by: Drosos Foundation, AFAC – Arab Fund for Art and Culture, the Sundance Institute, the Goethe Institute, the British Council, the French Institute – Paris, the French Institute – Lebanon, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - Beirut Office, Salon Du Livre Francophone.