Tideline: A Lebanese story makes its Australian premiere with Théâtre Excentrique
Théâtre Excentrique is a Sydney-based theatre company committed to bringing international stories to the Australian stage. Their newest production Tideline, written by Wajdi Mouawad (Scorched, Forests) and directed by Anna Jahjah (Exit the King, Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida) tells the story of Lebanese-Canadian Wilfrid, who travels back to his homeland Lebanon to bury his father’s body after the war.
Cultural Pulse spoke to director Anna Jahjah about the play, as well as the importance of producing multicultural theatre.
With Lebanese heritage herself, Anna Jahjah values authentic cultural stories where audiences can relate to the characters and see themselves represented.
“There are a lot of Australians that are from a Middle-Eastern background and are craving to hear their own stories that are not in a comic way” she observed.
Anna recalled one of the most memorable moments in her career – when she directed Beirut Adrenaline in 2016.
“There was a very old man who came, he was about eighty. During the play he started singing the same song as the actress on stage. It was amazing. And you could see the audience – especially the Lebanese – were crying and crying. They came and said, ‘Thank you so much. We haven’t heard our stories before’.”
Anna is drawn to Wajdi Mouawad’s work, particularly his ability to combine his own personal experiences with a universal appeal.
For example, Lebanese story Tideline avoids using the words ‘Lebanon’ or ‘Canada’, as Mouawad prefers to write a story which any audience member can connect with.
Selecting a cast with diverse backgrounds was very important to Anna. Three of the actors originally arrived to Australia as Syrian refugees.
If people know in the back of their mind that you're not just a refugee but you're also an actor, then they see that you're so much more than just being a refugee. It shows how everybody is the same. I love that idea.
When asked what audiences can most look forward to in her upcoming production, Anna explained that Tideline has a bit of everything.
Combining humour, music, Arabic language and heavy, impactful themes such as war and violence, the play promises to be both entertaining and powerful.
Anna also explains that Théâtre Excentrique follows a simple rule when selecting which plays will be produced.
The rule I never change, is to only perform plays that were written in a language other than English.
“[We perform] other stories than those that are already shown. That’s what makes it specific and different than other theatre companies,” she said.
Anna was inspired to create such a company after arriving in Australia from France, and finding herself craving theatre that told stories from other countries. Today, Théâtre Excentrique is known for presenting unique, global shows that have never been performed in Australia before.
WHEN: 24th March-5th April
WHERE: Old 505 Theatre, Newtown
COST: $30-45 + BF
If you would like to know more about this performance, click HERE.