The Love Project is a theatre performance by Zoukak company directed by Maya Zbib. The company’s research is based on in-depth interviews with people from different walks of life; who shared their love stories, intimate encounters and reflections on love as a concept and practice. Love, like theatre, takes place in the “here” and “now” and drives individuals to transform the irrevocability of their past and the projections of their future into infinite possibilities in the present. Society posits the certainty of death at the core of any truth, as a fatality looming in the horizon and defining human action; framing “the end of the story”. But what if we were to study “the middle of the story”… the apex of the adventure of life, through instances of falling in love? How does this impact our reading of the world we live in, how many ends and beginnings can we envision other than birth and death?
As a scenography response to the directorial approach, the performance is staged in the liminal space of a hospital waiting room. Here, in our everyday life, uncertainty prevails and we are bound to surrender control, give in to risk, as when in love.
“The world is full of new developments and love must also be something that innovates. Risk and adventure must be reinvented against safety and comfort” Alain Badiou – In Praise of Love
In this neutral environment, the green plastic chairs become the locus of confessions. The performers reenact other peoples’ words, or their own, in an anonymous space that has witnessed desires, fears, feelings of hope or loss, beginnings, ends and what arises in between. The surgery room – or operating theatre – is set at the back of the stage. This is the place where acute intensity manifests. It is the locus of battles between life and death, love and heartbreak, science and faith. Yet this unsettling dialectic is filtered to the public gaze’s, veiled by translucent box screens that allow seeing shadows of bodies in movement, while concealing naked details. As scenes unfold, the scenography either exposes the performers or protects them, forces them to negotiate their presence and bodies on stage. Their vulnerabilities are exposed, emphasizing their resilience in their fight for love in a society that promotes zero risk.The audience is partly sat on stage, blurring the edges of the waiting room, at a challenging distance that questions their interchangeability with the performers, the lovers and the beloved.
The project was developed between La Mama Theatre Residency in Spoleto and Zoukak’s studios in Beirut in 2019. It was performed at the Festival dei Due Mondi 2019 in Spoleto.
Photos by Marianne Kortbani