Last summer I had the honor to be asked to do the music for the theatre play Eyes, based on the writings of the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
It's the second time that director Norman Issa requests I do the music to a show he's working on, the first time was for the monodrama “Not Noah's ark” and the music won best music award in the Masrahid monodrama festival in Acre. This time round, my excitement was mixed with some fear. Darwish's poems were put to music by many amazing Arab composers, some of those compositions became somewhat of a milestone in Palestinian heritage, like the compositions of Lebanese singer and composer Marcel Khalife, who put many of Darwish's poems to music and brought them to great fame.
I myself grew up on Khalife's music, and got to know Darwish's poems through his music, but when I approached the poems in the purpose of using them in the play, I decided to put them to new music, to do a more theatrical take on the poems, that would serve the scenes that the actors and director were building. This felt equivalent to stepping into the Louvre, taking the Mona Lisa down and putting a drawing of mine instead, but I had Norman's back up, and I started the work. I did not compose the music for the play while sitting in front of my desk at home, no, I was present in the rehearsals daily, watching and listening to the scenes as they were built, and letting myself be influenced by the pace of the events. I would then grab my guitar, or frame drum or Nei (Arabic Flute) and start to play something. This was an amazingly interesting process, in which the music was born from the movements on stage and not the other way around.
For example this is how the poem “Rita” found itself being sung to a ¾ beat. The scene was of two lovers meeting, and what a more suitable background to their soul dance than the Waltz? The poem “My mother's coffee” became somewhat of a shout of longing and despair, because it was incorporated in a scene where Mahmoud Darwish is in jail, and the prisoner brings him a pot of coffee his mother made for him, and as he puts out his hand to take the coffee, the prisoner spills it all over the floor.
The play was produced by the Arab-Hebrew theatre in Jaffa, Tel-Aviv. And it's a theatre that was established with the agenda of co-existence, and collaboration between Arab and Jewish performers.
The play is in Arabic and Hebrew and has subtitles to both, and sometimes also to English (depending on the crowd).
Director: Norman Issa.
Actors: Doraid Liddawi, Anat Hadid, Einat Wiseman.
You can find the dates of the performances in my calendar, under "Shows" in the main Menu.
Learn more about Eyes