‘Dancing on the Dead’ Depicts Shatila Massacre
The play al Raqs Ala al Mawta (Dancing on the Dead) based the French writer Jean Genet’s text Four Hours in Shatila, has been presented in Arabic and French languages in many Arab cities, according to the daily al Hayat.
Beirut Theater has recently hosted the play as part of Shams Festival and will be staged in the Jordanian capital Amman as part of Amman Theatrical Days and will then move to Damascus.
The script of the French writer is full of agony, astonishment and anger, which he witnessed inside the camp three days after the September 19, 1982 massacre. Genet recorded his observations on which the French director Catherine Poskovetz based her play Dancing on the Dead on a circus arena at a bare and solitary theater which transforms gradually to depict the ruins of a camp, its houses and even the damage of the spirit and the whole world.
A lady (played by Lebanese actress Sawsan Bukhaled) dressed in clown costumes quickly takes off her clothes to wear the misery ones dragging a TV set on which the pictures, events and comments on the catastrophe, yet on the whole history, are flowing. The sad clown plays with the pictures and make sarcastic of them. An American lady, being scared on the stage of September 11 attacks, says, I don’t know. “She doesn’t know!” the clown comments before she starts reading parts of Genet’s script.
The faint lights and all the performance technologies tried to serve Genet’s script and deal with the awful catastrophe in a bitter sarcasm. Poskovetz wants us to participate in this celebration whether witnesses, victims or viewers.
At the end of September 1982, the French writer Jean Genet entered Shatila, the Palestinian refugee camp in west Beirut. He spent four hours there. "A photograph doesn't show the flies nor the thick white smell of death," he wrote.
"It does not show how you must jump over bodies as you walk along from one corpse to the next."
According to Guardian Unlimited, estimates vary as to how many were murdered at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps because there are two mass graves in Beirut which have never been exhumed. The usual reckoning is up to 2,000, overwhelmingly old men, women and children.
But there is no confusion about who was responsible for the massacres. Israel's very own internal inquiry, the Kahan commission, stated that Ariel Sharon, then defense minister, bore "personal responsibility" for the atrocities inside the camps – Albawaba.com
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)