We are made of blood and bones and flesh. We are made of words, animated by deeds, wounded by looks and in the end, a mosaic of all this.
In a show that explores identify – how each bit is accumulated and molded into a whole, Sahar Ali sets the audience up for a discovery of the self.
Saharcasm, which runs from October 24-26 at 8pm at the Courtyard Playhouse in Al Quoz, is born of experience.
“It took me a very long time to figure out who I was. Growing up, I always looked for stories/perspectives similar to my own. I related a lot with African-America because it was the first type of blackness that was portrayed in the media. It was a part of me that I did not hear about growing up in Ireland so naturally, I looked outside for that. However, as much as I loved African-American culture and as much as I related to many different aspects of it, it wasn't completely who I was,” explains Ali.
Ali is originally Sudanese, grew up in Ireland, and spent some time in Saudi Arabia before moving to Dubai.
She tells Gulf News: “I have an Irish accent with an American twang, and an ability to pronounce complicated Arabic letters correctly. I am black but I can speak Irish. I learned very early on in life that people will hear one aspect of your identity and make assumptions based on that about who you are as a person. We only think about our day to day but on a grander scale, sometimes these assumptions can be dangerous to large communities of people - usually the less privileged.”
Germination of an idea
“I started to write about my own experience, I found people who could not only relate to it but were thankful because it was the first time they heard of an experience so close to their own.”
And from this work was created Saharcasm – a mesh of spoken word poems written and performed by Ali over a year. The feedback was a flood. ”While some people were compelled to question the systemic biases within society, others looked at their own experiences with racism and discrimination.”
The drama comes not just from the words however. Pádraig Downey, who has directed the showcase, says: “Design wise, we have added video, music, dance (we have two wonderful dancers) who act as a chorus and express oppression, racism and in turn freedom through dance. We use powder and color along with white and black clothing to symbolise the way in which words and looks can stain.”
He points out an easily forgotten fundamental: “You don't have to be overtly racist to act racist.”
At the end of the 90-minute show, says Ali, she wants to wipe the slate clean. “Let's start again and meet as equals. Presume you know nothing about me - especially not by looking. Presume that I am one of those complex amalgamations of experiences unknown to you. Throw every assumption away - doesn't that make for a more interesting conversation?” she asks.
If we are a collection of memories – why not make them better ones?
Don’t miss it!
Too see Saharacasm, which runs from October 24-26 at The Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz, RSVP at courtyardplayhouse.com/events