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Featured: Rabih Mroué (Beirut, Lebanon)

Featured: Rabih Mroué (Beirut, Lebanon)

Rabih Mroué (lives and works in Beirut) is an actor, director, and playwright and is the winner of the 2010 Spalding Gray Award.

In 1990 he began putting on his own plays, performances, and videos. Continuously searching for new and contemporary relations among all the different elements and languages of the theatre art forms, Mroué questions the definitions of theatre and the relationship between space and form of the performance and, consequently, questions how the performer relates with the audience. His works deal with the issues that have been swept under the table in the current political climate of Lebanon. He draws much-needed attention to the broader political and economic contexts by means of a semi-documentary theatre.

From theatre practice to politics, and from the problem of representations to his private life, his search for ‘truth’ begins via documents, photos, and found objects, fabricating other documents, other ‘truths’: it is as if the work becomes a dissection table for the dubious processes of Lebanon’s war society. With the accumulation of materials, a surrealistic saga unfolds, teasing out the proposition that ‘between the truth and a lie, there is but a hair’. His piece ‘Looking for a Missing Employee’ is an investigative performance in which the artist becomes a ‘detective’ interested in using actual documents to understand how rumours, public accusations, national political conflicts, and scandals act on the public sphere as shaped by print media. Mroué incorporates radical criticism, particularly in his video imagery.

Without losing his peculiar sense of humour, Mroué’s ‘Biokhraphia’ (in collaboration with Lina Saneh) shrewdly provides a space to consider the invention of biography, with all its dreams, failings, and idiosyncrasies, within the frame of the beginning of a history. In 2004 Mroué wrote ‘Who’s Afraid of Representation’, a merging of parallel histories of Western performance art and contemporary socio-political events in Beirut.

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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.