Artist Talks Brandhaarden: Hanane Hajj Ali

Brandhaarden 2023

Artist Talks Brandhaarden: Hanane Hajj Ali

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam


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Artist Talks Brandhaarden: Hanane Hajj Ali
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

A look behind the scenes and conversations with the makers make the performance visit even more interesting. That is why ITA Academy organises a series of Artist Talks during Brandhaardens: in-depth discussions with inspiring makers about their work and working methods, motives, sources of inspiration and fascinations. Artist Talks take place after a performance by the artist in question and offer a deeper look at the work in a broader context.

Duration 45 minutes, after the performance
Location Pleinfoyer
Language English

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‘ What drives me is the hunger and the urgency to say something, to point out an issue, or to tell a story…usually issues that are disfigured, hidden, biased, censored… and anyway political, social taboos are served by a whole component of a society.’

In this Artist Talk during festival Brandhaarden, moderator Carolien Borgers talks to Hanane Hajj Ali, after the performance Jogging.

Hanane Hajj Ali (1959) discovered theatre during the civil war in Lebanon when out of necessity she spent a lot of time in bomb shelters, ‘Someone started to sing a song or recite a poem’, she recounted in an interview. ‘Then my brother picked up his guitar and his friends started to sing and little by little we started to improvise scenes. That’s where I first experienced the power of art.’

Ali is a writer, theatre maker and activist. After a number of years in the relative safety of South Lebanon, she moved to Beirut aged ten, a city of extreme beauty and extreme horrors. In Jogging, a performance with which she tours the world and which she performs for free in refugee camps and other alternative venues in Lebanon, she talks about her walks through the city. Jogging is banned from theatres because of its ‘sexual and subversive’ use of language.

She started out by studying Biology to please her parents, but she had been secretly involved in theatre ever since those experiences in the bomb shelter. When she discovered the Al Hakawati theatre, it became a her great passion, ‘They used popular songs and wrote the real history of the Lebanese people. In this way they created a completely new theatre form. Never previously my life had I had such a feeling. That’s what I wanted to do.’ In 1978, she joined the company as an actor and writer. Immediately after the civil war, she and her husband made a play in which they had actors from both sides of the divided country perform together.

Ali won a major international prize in 2020, the Gilder/Coigne International Theatre Award. She is involved in a large number of organisations concerned with cultural policy, but she is also one of Lebanon’s best-known activists.