How To Act: On Stages and Storytellers


March 12, 2015

Jasmina Metwaly & Philip Rizk
Dina Makram Ebeid
Louly Seif
Peter Watkins
Mark Westmoreland
Jia Zhangke

March–April 2015

11 Road 12/Mahmoud Sedky
Agouza, Cairo 

office [​at​]

The destroyer is standing before us — the caterpillar.

In collaboration with the artist/filmmaker duo Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk, Beirut presents a program of film screenings, talks, and discussions, throughout the months of March and April. The program is inspired by their ongoing research that uses as a starting point the conditions of work, labor and revolt, and which has culminated into their most recent film Out on the Street (2015). The film premiered at the Berlinale in Berlin earlier this year, and will be presented at the German Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale. How to Act: On Stages and Storytellers follows a series of tangents departing from Metwaly and Rizk’s references, from classical cinematic works to the current practice of activists, artists, scholars and researchers in Egypt and elsewhere.

Anthropologist and filmmaker Mark Westmoreland will set off the program in conversation with Metwaly and Rizk, featuring excerpts from Peter Watkins’s historical drama La Commune (Paris, 1871) (2000). The filmmakers will show clips from their recent production Out on the Street (2015) as part of the discussion. The following event will be dedicated to screening La Commune in its entirety, complete with English and Arabic subtitles. Later in March, filmmaker and editor Louly Seif will take a closer look at the language and logic of filmmaking, and the construction of (political) narrative through montage. Seif is also the editor of Out on the Street. On the fourth evening, anthropologist and researcher Dina Makram Ebeid is invited to elucidate some of the social relations that emerge within the working space of the factory, particularly the paternalistic relationships that evolve between workers, speaking about the specific case of the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company in Helwan. Makram Ebeid’s talk will be coupled with a screening of Jia Zhangke’s film 24 City (2008), a film about a state-owned factory building in China’s Chengdu, which through its experimental form explores the social relations within the workspace of a factory and its surroundings.

How to Act: On Stages and Storytellers is an opportunity for researchers, artists, filmmakers, film editors and theorists, and other publics, to closely engage with the thought and practice that informs the field of experimental performance of opposition. Together we aim to study the roles of re-enactment, theater and film montage, as ways of telling stories about political struggles. The talks, films and discussions become a site from which we can understand the rubrics of global structural failures, politically and economically, from the vantage point of the local and the singular: the family, the factory, the institution and the state.

For a full program of our events visit our website and sign up for our newsletter. You find us on Facebook at “Beirut in Cairo.”

The Imaginary School Program is in session until summer and is supported by Arts Collaboratory, Goethe Institute and Beirut.

Beirut exists throughout the spring of 2015 with the generous support of the Young Arab Theatre Fund.