At the origin of the project
After traveling in Asia and even to the USA, the 99 Project landed in the Mediterranean world with projects in Nice in 2018, in Sousse in 2019 and now in Lebanon. The deployment of the 99 project from country to country owes much to encounters. The project that starts this year in Lebanon is no exception. Sarah Bussy with whom I collaborated in 2017 on 99 LIVE SHANGHAI 2017 introduced me to Carol Mezher , director of the film festival Femmes Francophones Mediterranées . We spoke on the phone and then met at the station coffee shop Nice-Ville and voilà! By ricochet, the idea of launching 99 LIVE LEBANON emerged.
“Visit”, an inspiration of the future play 99 LIVE LEBANON (May 2019)
In May 2019, I went to Beirut for the first time and I met many actors of the Lebanese cultural life: the director and producer Muriel Abourouss , the performers Noel and Michelle Keserwany , the drama teachers and actors Nathalie Ould Said-Le Gac and Mike Ayvazian and a few others who warmly welcomed this new project.
Muriel Abourouss was immediately open to collaboration because our approaches present obvious affinities. Muriel Abourouss and Denis Jabbour are the directors and produces of the Web-series Zyara (which means “visit” in Arabic), which won multiple international awards. The series is in its fourth season and features five-minute portraits of men and women of all religions and social backgrounds who share their memories, emotions and dreams in front of Muriel’s sensitive and poetic camera. The “visits” invite us to authentic encounters with ordinary heroes and to recognize ourselves in their humanity. Through public screenings and debates, Muriel and Denise provide routes to the social healing of the Lebanese society, often bruised and fragmented by history.
Talkin ‘about a revolution (November 2019)
In November 2019, I came back to Lebanon to confirm the commitment of my partners in a context of political turmoil. In particular, I spoke with the sisters Noel and Michelle Keserwany, two talented performers and musicians who have been releasing for years successful songs and videos that denounced in spirit the corruption of the Lebanese political class and the gregarious attitude of the population.
Meet Noel and Michelle Keserwany
Noel and Michelle are very involved in the current revolution and our exchanges led us to discuss the positioning of the project 99 LIVE LEBANON. Indeed, one of the issues raised by the popular revolt is that of representativeness. This movement is formed by individuals who aspire to more democracy but reject the idea that representatives can carry out a “common will”. The challenge is to hold together various voices and elevate them so that they can heard, but without erasing their diversity. The 99 LIVE LEBANON, by its polyphonic nature, is meant to ensure the coexistence of heterogeneous opinions and accompany the democratic aspirations of the Lebanese people.
Writing spaces (Spring 2020)
The writing workshops should take place in Beyrouth during Spring 2020.
The portraits of the web series “Zyara” will be the starting point of the future play. After watching a few episodes of the series, the participants of the writing workshops will write short monologues in English, French and Arabic inspired by these stories. Then, these monologues will be arranged to compose an original play with 99 characters according to Genevieve Flaven’s original idea.
At the same time, teenagers from Carmel Saint-Joseph will also participate in the writing of the play with the support of Sr. Nathalie Ould Said-The Gac, drama teacher at Carmel Saint Joseph, a multi-faith high school run by Sr. Mariam. Nour, a charismatic personality dedicated to interreligious dialogue in Lebanon.
Staging (June 2020 – early 2021)
Given the current situation in Lebanon, it is difficult to make plans beyond a few weeks, so a delibarate step-by-step approach is a necessity. But, I am convinced that we can at least stage the play in Lebanon with lightweight performance readings with 6 to 10 actors in French, English and Arabic by the end of the year 2020. I have as well the ambition to present the play in France and Canada relying on local theatre groups.
Support the writing of the new play 99 LIVE LEBANON!
You can support an ambitious work of art and accompany the transformation of Lebanese society!
Your donations will be used to support the writing phase ( $ 5 000) and in priority:
- Grant financial compensation to Lebanese professional artists who facilitate the creative process of the project with talent and experience
- Cover the costs of room rental, local transportation and food to host participants during two weekends.
Regarding the staging phase, the costs of production depend a lot from the format of the shows. Its financing of the staging phase will be initiated once the play is written.
Note that the project 99 LIVE LEBANON is non-profit. The profits from the shows will be donated to local social projects chosen by the participants.