hamlet machine

hamlet machine

Synopsis:
The theatre performer comes out from the ruins of history to announce that [he] was Hamlet'. Hamlet, who mimics the contemporary cultivated person for Müller, is no longer concerned with the existential question related to his action or its negation when confronting destiny, like Shakespeare's Hamlet, but his concern is rather turned to an auto-criticism of the cultivated person in confrontation with his history. There is a "huge wall" rising between him and the "ideologized" history, between his being and his action, between him and his testimony, between the futility of his testimony and the futility of watching him.

This is the state of the player of Hamlet in the post World War 2 Europe, so how would be his state in our region? And what would be the form of the question that the performer asks the character and the theatre and the reality of his ‘ideologized’ presence which is in a constant state of waiting. Here we wonder: if it were true that the questions posed by Shakespearian tragedies – and the Greeks before him- were eligible to be considered as global questions, is it possible then to approach the politicized questions posed by Müller’s as mimicking our reality? And if our performance ignored the politicized trails of Müller’s text, will it not avoid shouting to the public the traces of these trails in our context and our present? What the performance tries to do is to tackle these trails which are very much related to Müller’s time and era. In Müller’s attempt to write a tragedy contemporary to his time, the history is shown as dismembered and fractured into pieces with mere illusions linking them, while the present is only a piling up of the disasters of these pieces. In front of the fatalistic absurdity of this present, the text is incapable of leading a dramatic chronology, like his contemporary protagonist who is incapable of taking an intellectual stand in the face of this absurd supremacy of the present.
The work, considered as an attempt to touch upon the traits of contemporary tragedy, deals with the human being’s crisis in a present charged with disasters inherited from a politicized disfigured past, it is the tragedy of history, the tragedy of history’s present. The position of the performer with regards to that tragedy whose characters he/she plays on stage becomes a stand from these characters, from theatre and its audience...
Here, the performer of Hamlet is burdened with the history of collapses, failures and depressions, after each war he carries his body and faces his dispersed self in the roles which he performs onstage. His position is his revolution; even if it’s a damaged revolution or a “petrification of a hope”, it still is an undeniable privilege. The theatre performer comes out from the ruins of history to announce that ‘[he] was Hamlet’. Hamlet, who mimics the contemporary intellectual for Müller, is no longer concerned with the existential question related to his action or its negation when confronting destiny, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but his concern is rather turned to an auto-criticism of the intellectual in confrontation with his history.
In our theatrical treatment of the text we attempt to experiment the non-linearity of narrative through the action. This comes form our belief that the absence of linearity in narrative does not eliminate the actual story.

The translation of the text by Junaid Sarieddeen was published by dar-al-farabi in October 2009

Credits:
Text: Heiner Muller
Director: Omar Abi Azar
Dramaturgy: Zoukak Company
Performers: Maya Zbib
Lamia Abi Azar
Danya Hammoud
Junaid Sarieddeen
Translator of the text: Junaid Sarieddeen
Production Manager: Roy Dib

Hamletmachine was performed at the Sunflower Theater in October 2009

Date of creation: 
September 2009
photo by randa mirza