Plain Secret/ Baalbeck
Following the success of APEAL’s two community outreach projects, the Ras Masqa Artists in Residence (RMAR) and Works on Paper, STUDIOCUR/ART invited APEAL to lead a community outreach program in parallel with their exhibition, The Silent Echo, which explored the notions of history and archaeology. The exhibition ran at Baalbeck’s temple complex and archeological museum from September 17 to October 17, 2016.
The Silent Echo was curated by Karina El Helou and featured works by Ziad Antar, Danica Dakic, Laurent Grasso, Susan Hiller, Theo Mercier, Marwan Rechmaoui, Ai Weiwei, Paola Yacoub and Cynthia Zaven. As an active partner in the exhibition, APEAL spearheaded a program tailored to engage with the local community in Baalbeck and commissioned Zoukak, a Lebanese theater company and cultural organization, to run a participatory theater workshop centered on the issues of heritage, history and identity.
Conceived specifically to engage with Baalbeck’s older residents, the program aimed to raise awareness of the cultural importance and rich heritage of this historical region. The interactive narrative project was designed to create a cross-generational dialogue within the local community, thus enabling the older generation to share their understanding and insight.
Trainers and participants explored the artistic and cultural heritage of the City of the Sun in relation to its contemporary social and cultural realities, from Antiquity to modern-day, that included the region’s local dance and poetry traditions as well as the famous Baalbeck International Festival. Focusing on acting and improvisation, the workshop encouraged participants to refine and hone their story-building and storytelling techniques, in addition to theatrical performance skills.
The workshops were led by Hashem Adnan and Christelle Khodr of Zoukak, and consisted of seven working sessions of six hours each at the city’s Palmyra Hotel from October 6 to October 15, 2016. The program ended with a public theater performance on October 15 at the Temple of Bacchus.
Plain Secret was sponsored by the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon and the Robert A. Matta Arts and Culture Association.