Multidisciplinary Artist and Performance Director Riham Isaac presents her first solo show ‘Another Lover’s Discourse’, to show at Rich Mix’s Palestinian Arts (PalArt) Festival
The UK is at the forefront of encouraging important dialogues, in particular, ones revolving around international issues that help to nurture understanding and connection. This incredibly important to continue on with, especially now. Introducing their inaugural Palestinian Arts Festival, Rich Mix looks to showcase the Palestinian arts scene, offering a mixed programme of theatre, spoken word, poetry, music, singing and visual art. Debuting her first solo show ‘Another Lover’s Discourse’, showing from the 29th to 31st October, director Riham Isaac presents a story exploring the complexity of love and relationships. Having just recently performed at the Belfast International Arts Festival on the 22nd and 23rd October, Riham tells us more about what to expect!Hi Riham, your show Another Lover’s Discourse recently played at the Belfast International Arts Festival on the 22nd and 23rd October and will play at Rich Mix as part of the Palestinian Arts Festival from the 29th to 31st. How has the run gone so far? How are you feeling ahead of the Rich Mix Performance?
I’m really looking forward to being part of the PalArt Festival – I think it’s a great continuation of my premiere in Belfast and a great representation of my work. And to put it in the context of the Palestinian Arts Festival where they are really celebrating Palestinian artists. Belfast international Arts Festival audiences’ responses were really great, and yes I can’t wait to share this work with London audiences. I think it will be different, of course, and be quite unique.
Another Lover’s Discourse explores the complexity of love and relationships, what inspired you to explore this topic further?
What inspired me to start with this project is trying to understand how we learn ‘love’ so this is where I started from, and it’s a topic that we don’t really talk about usually. It’s a fantastic topic as well to speak to international audiences, I think people can relate to love stories as they’ve been there in all art films and TV. I wanted to offer another take on it and put it in my perspective and to really unravel these ideas and patterns about love and how they are portrayed in our art, cultures and traditions. As well as these roles we see, male and female, and explore love in all its complexity coming from my personal story.
The show encourages a more open conversation about how we understand romantic relationships, mashing up interviews with friends, family and strangers, combining video, music, performance and original film. What has the development process involved?
It involved a long period of research that I did solo at home in Palestine – I was filming myself, I was talking to people, doing a lot of improvisations, reading and writing – it was more than two years of research around the topic and getting all this raw material together to work with and play with. Trying to work out how to talk about love and my personal experience in a dramatic way. How can I talk about love and my journey and finding these questions that I had about love and portray it in a good way as an outcome for audiences. It was a very long process. And then my other collaborators joined me to further the creation process.
You’ve written, directed and will perform the piece, with video art created by Simon Clode, compositions and music by Faris Ishaq, lighting design and technical stage management by Firas Abu Sabbah, set design by Bashar Hassuneh, costume design by Hind Hilal and Aya Altaweel, it’s produced by yourself and Courtenay Johnson, with marketing provided by Laura Hemming-Lowe. How have you collaborated all these creatives to realise the show?
I first worked with Simon, my video artist collaborator, and then Faris, my musical collaborator, alone before working with other collaborators and the work kept developing during these periods. The process of me writing the script is quite unique because it’s full of visual, movement and audio descriptions rather than a dialogue. I have chosen what happens where, which video plays on which screen and what lines are heard and what’s shown or spoken very specifically. It was very important to me that my collaborators really understood my intentions, of every act and every scene, and it all came together slowly and beautifully. It puzzles all together with the lighting, the technicalities, the video, the music, the costumes and the full production comes together to platform the creativity and share and portray all those intentions with audiences. You have to work with people who believe in your work to push it forward and to share with audiences – to show who you really are and expand your experience.
What have you learned/taken away from the development process?
I have learned that I have highly visual semiotics – writing a script that is more sensational and affecting people’s emotions rather than purely intellectual. It does speak to audiences. They reflect into their own stories and that makes me more confident in my work in a way – this is something that is really rooted in my practice, and I would like to develop it more and to really see this work develop in a more visual sense. This experiment between visual and theatrical and performance is all something I’d like to explore further. What I am doing here is exploring the language between visual arts and theatre, performance, singing and dancing, and how I can explore these dialogues further and how they all relate and respond to each other.
What would you like for audiences to take away from the show?
It’s not what they will expect from a theatre piece, especially coming from Palestine – they will settle into this show slowly and be entertained by the many aspects: live music, video and performance, singing, dancing, film, Egyptian cinema etc. They are all connected to my core theme of ‘love’ and to my culture growing up being fascinated about Egyptian cinema, which is the Hollywood cinema in the Arab world, it will be a mix of everything and the autobiographical aspect of it will also help them reflect into themselves, into their own personal love stories and how to navigate it and proceed. This is my core question in a way, ‘Will we ever know how to love?’ rather than know what love is – reflecting on this question of how we actually love.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Another Lover’s Discourse will show from Saturday 29th to Monday 31st October 2022 at Rich Mix as part of their Palestinian Theatre Festival. To find out more about the production, visit here…
To find out more about the Palestinian Arts Festival, visit here…