Of Bitter Trees—Performing the Years of Lead

  • Jamal Akabli

Bitter Trees, a scenic composition by Abdelmajid El Haouasse, bears a living testimony to the Years of Lead, one of the darkest chapters in Moroccan history. While the years following the investiture of the new king Mohammed VI presaged a new era of reconciliation with past abuses of human rights, this could only be achieved through excavating the ins and outs of this particularly traumatising phase in the birth of the modern Morocco by giving the victims the voice they had been denied to speak up and out against the injustices they had fallen prey to. El Haouasse audaciously revisits the odious and atrocious to stage and memorialise the long buried but hardly forgotten abuses scarring the deepest recesses of our shared memory and common history to come to terms with our/selves and shelve the past without shivering to leaf through it so that the slash could be turned into a dash that bridges the past with the present in such a way as would make the twain -‘our’ and ‘selves’ – a one harmonious and melodious entity. Au-dela of reporting stories now profusely available for all to read and watch, the scenographer lays emphasis on a composite of elements that blend ensemble to awaken our senses in what one may call a short-lived transformative postdramatic experience with an everlasting taste to it.

Postdramatic theatre is understood to privilege performance over text in such a way as would make of ‘’The text …just one element in the scenography and general ‘performance writing’ of theatre’’,[1] which could per se unsettle the audience more than any dramatic text. With textuality being relegated, postdramatic theatre is overrun ‘’by mediation, gestuality, rhythm, tone’’ in addition to ‘’nihilistic … empty space, silence.’’[2] Even within the confines of the postdramatic realm, postdramatists cencede that certain elements of dramatic theatre still linger on informing and infiltrating their practices. Nothing could be further from the truth than to speak of a total epistimological rupture. According to Hans-Thies Lehmann, ‘’The adjective ‘postdramatic’ denotes a theatre that feels bound to operate beyond drama, at a time ‘after’ the authority of the dramatic paradigm in theatre. What it does not mean is an abstract negation and mere looking away from the tradition of drama. ‘After’ drama means that it lives on as a structure – however weakened and exhausted’’.[3] In a rejoinder, Brandon Woolf reaffirms that ‘’the movement from drama to post-drama is by no means neat and clean, and to speak in terms of a paradigm shift at all – as is so common in the sciences, for instance – presents a risk’’[4]El Haouasse’s œuvre is exemplary of this continuity and change so characteristic of postdramatic theatre. Bitter Trees may be rightly subsumed under this category being more of a sensorial than a textual composition that plays on our senses to prod us into identifying vicariously with the perceived characters on stage and the real victims off stage. As the scenes unfurl, members of the audience will find themselves called upon to emotionally invest in a story that is being narrativised in two distinct and yet parallel strands, the first of which is taking lieu at the center stage with characters we see, hear from, feel for, and loathe whilst the second narrative uncoils behind the see-through wall with characters whose contours we can see but whose faces are hazy and fuzzy. This thrust chimes in with the very intent postdramatic theatre seeks in ‘’an attempt to conceptualize art in the sense that it offers not a representation but an intentionally unmediated experience of the real’’[5] of which time, space, the body are paramount. While the characters’ voices have been muffled, their bodies speak volumes in the language of music, dance, colours, and light about their status quo. Following Wagner, Erika Fischer-Lichte contends that “The individual arts …become indistinguishable from each other. Each one fulfills a specific function for the respective “organic member.” …melody, gesture, and verbal … join together to render the “organic members” as complex entities.’’ Once fused, ‘’the individual arts create complex elements such as action and character through their constitutive elements. During this process they lose their uniqueness as particular art forms and merge into the work as a whole.’’[6] Thus, the expressiveness of the body coupled with music take over the spoken. Having been divested of the power to speak, these earthlings find in the voice in space a ventriloquial voice that supplants their silence. Fischer-Lichte sums up the essence of the voice in the following quote:

The materiality of the voice reveals the performance’s materiality in its entirety. The voice captures tonality as it resounds in space; it emphasizes corporeality because it leaves the body through respiration; it marks spatiality because its sound flows out into the space and enters the ears of spectators and articulating subjects alike… It comes into existence only when it sounds out. It cannot survive the breath that created it but must be brought forth again with every new breath…Not only does the voice unite tonality, corporeality, and spatiality so that the performance’s materiality constantly regenerates itself within it. Through it, the bodily being-in-the-world of the articulating subject expresses him/herself and addresses those who hear him/her in their own bodily being-in-the-world. The voice builds a bridge and establishes a relationship between…subjects. It fills the space between them. By making their voices audible, people reach out to touch those who hear it.[7]

Certes, postdramatic theatre is said to be devoid of action, but ‘’it is in dance that the new images of the body are most clearly visible. In dance we find most radically expressed what is true for postdramatic theatre in general: it articulates not meaning but energy, it represents not illustrations but actions.’’[8] The simultneous absence/presence of the characters on and off stage is very telling in and of itself of the predicament many a prisoner of conscience found themselves in. This Manichean duality of being and not being, being present and absent, having a face and having none, being voiced and being voiceless is a theatrical device Elhaouasse exploits at great lengths to explore the polarised power struggle between the haves and the have-nots, i.e between those with a voice and those without; those dancing like butterflies and those enmeshed like insects in a spider’s cobweb, those who exercise power and those upon whom power is exercised. From the very outset, the stage is engulfed with darkness, foregrounding much of the doom and gloom on the horizon. The audience barely sees the silhouettes of six figures as they clink their utensils in unison, their only means of expression against repression and oppression. The ear-piercing sound they make as they steadily bang their steely tools against glass bottles and tin containers is sure to drive one nuts if kept on and on. As the players play on, their pace picks up until it reaches its crescendo only to immediately die out. No sooner does it become intolerable than the actors exit one by one, relieving the audience of the deafening commotion whose echo one can still make out. Our sight and hearing are here invoked as if El Haouasse were ascertaining that we are all ears and eyes, if I may say so, thus producing a visual and aural dramaturgy, to say the least. Only if one is impelled and compelled in this way, El Haouasse’s way, can one fully and utterly coexperience to some extent what it felt like to be and not to, to have and not to, to live and not to. The darkness the stage is thrown into is so eclipsing and consuming that the overhead projectors hardly suffice to light it up. Darkness rules over the stage just as it did rule Morocco in the Years of Lead. More light suffuses the stage as all the actors but two exit the stage. The background is painted in a reddish hue almost scarlet-like, the colour of blood, it seems. While the sound of lashing, whipping and flogging is audible, the victims are invisible, but their constant yelling and yelping are as distinct as the voice that comes in to comment on what is happening behind the scenes. It is left to the discretion of the audience to imagine the horror of the invisible scenes of torture, scenes too horrific, horrid and horrendous to be staged. Were the speaking subject visible, the effect of his speech would not be this powerful. The absenting of the speaker makes it sound as if ‘’the voice (were) coming directly from the ‘soul’. It is sensed as the quasi-unfiltered mental, psychic and spiritual charisma of the ‘person’. The speaking person is the present person par excellence, a metaphor of the ‘other’…appealing to the responsibility of the spectators …The spectators find themselves exposed to the ‘meaningless’ presence of the speaker as a question addressed to them, to their gaze as corporeal creatures.’’[9] While the whip is lashing and slashing the prisoners’ backs, feet and/or God knows what, the voiceover fills up the silence on stage. It is the voice of (our) conscience. What the audience partakes of are the utterances one of the victimised is making in telling his story, the story of a plethora of others, as he speaks ventriloquially. The language being spoken is standard Arabic, which is indicative of the caste of people being incarcerated. They are the educated, the cultivated, and the outspoken who have come to be the wretched of the Earth, to fall back on Fanon, whom the state machinery failed to muffle, mute and silence. The echo of their voices can still reverberate deep from the abyss of the darkness they had been plunged and drowned in. The state apparatus, the prison walls, the shackles, the executioners all connive and contrive to enfetter, oppress and suppress the prisoners of conscience, but little did they know that a story that was written in blood, tear gas and lead bullets will one day shatter the walls to rattle on and transcend the barbed wires to live on in the memories of the downtrodden only to procreate from the womb of darkness and into the dawn of light and recreate itself in the form of a performance staged for the world at large to witness. Laconically put, the theatrical performance ‘’becomes more presence than representation, more shared than communicated experience, more process than product, more manifestation than signification, more energetic impulse than information.’’[10]

The performance is built on chiasmic parallels and, sometimes, on paradoxes. The screen the audience sees through is the same screen that stands between the present and the past, the real and the imaginary. ‘’The impact of media on performance manifests itself not only in the use of high-tech ‘multimedia’ onstage, however, but sometimes also in its very opposite: theatre on a bare stage with minimalist, pared down aesthetics’’[11], Karen Jürs-Munby explains. In the testimony the voice makes, one gleans evidence from the (ill)treatment the prisoners received at the hands of their captors/ oppressors. Albeit being chained to window bars day and night and sleeping rough side by side on the cement bags, they hear the sound of birds chirping, the voice informs us. Perhaps, it is this very melodious sound that gives them a ray of hope in their desolate, desperate and odious state of being/not being. At the crack of dawn, the cries intensify. The stomping of the guards’ feet can be heard approaching. Perduring moments of silence are disrupted by intense thunderous and tempestuos spells, and darkness is ensued by light and vice versa. Texts written to be silently read by their addressees are read out loud by the addressers. The senses, the prisoners’ and ours, are being played upon to drive home the point El Haouasse is making. He seems to be insinuating that the pain is so excruciating that it is best to hear soundbites of it rather than see it for what it is in its entirety, which is next to impossible. The crude and cruel, the brutal and brutish, the inhuman and inhumane, the dehumanising and demeaning came to be idiosyncratic traits of the treatment prisoners were afflicted and inflicted for voicing out their dissent. Even within the precints of the prison, one is struck to realise that resistance is here strongly manifest in the prisoners’ refusal to eat the stew given to sustain and maintain their bodies. The less they consume, the likelier they are to fall out while under the whip, thus depriving their sadistic tyrants of the only ‘jouissance’ they derive, that of the whip. Those with paralysed arms are being fed against their will to give the dogged executioners a back, a log in both senses of the term, to flog. The prisoners’ backs will be the logbook that supplies history with stories of darkness, of torture, of oppression. Having been dangling for far too long, these prisoners incurred disjointed articulations only the voiceover can articulate, yet the oppressors think, if think they can, that as long as they can breathe, they must go under the whip. The prisoners have been through so much they have become phantoms, the voice apprises us.

Thus far, El Haouasse’s directorial choice to deliberately cloak the stage in darkness has its implications on the the audience whom he has left in the dark as to where, when, who, what and why. It is only after instilling this sense of absolute negation of places, of names and of so much more that we are told where we are. Dar Lmukri, the house of the Qur’an reader, is the name of prison house. The name itself is an oxymoron paradoxically twinning the sacred with the profane, grafting the holy Qur’an with the not so holy, the unholy and unkoranic. Metonymically, nightingales, which supposedly chirp to please the ear and appease the tormented, here sing acutely and coarsely every morning announcing the beginning of a new day of torture. A human figure is squatting on one side of the stage with light on top pouring over while all else is soaked in darkness. As more reddish light comes on, we see another figure sitting on the other side with a dangling head. They seem to be transfixed, unable to stir. Two bodies overpowered by the yoke of relentless torture. As the seated prisoner crumbles onto the stretcher, two guards appear from nowhere to put him back on his feet not out of pity for his life but out of an insatiable desire to protract his agony. Darkness reigns over the stage but for the torturers and the tortured. The bell ceaselessly rings on and on, ding dong, ding dong, dong ding dong. The agonising victim of torture is being further agonised by the two vultures. For the victimised, death marks not just the end of their morbid life but also a relief from misery, a liberation of the soul and emancipation of the body; it is a moment of glory, joy and pride. For the victimisers, death is tantamount to defeat as they will no longer devour and savour the pain the suffering of others procures. The stage reeks of death as it sinks into yet more darkness. At the very moment death visits, the reddish background turns blue, which imparts the feeling that the stage is as cold as stone, perhaps as cold as death. The two victims on stage, a male and a female, writhe under the pain and wither away as the guards wallow in their pain. The utensils clink on, the bells ring on, and the word tedium is repeated over and over creating a nauseating sense of boredom, almost like a willow song foreshadowing their demise. In refusing to sit still and be subdued, the two victims exude signs of resistance as if they were saying to their executioners that they would never have the upper hand. The frenetic and frantic admixture of sounds and cries is so entrancing that the female victim goes berserk only to fall into a trance. As the torturers toss her around, she kind of seems to be weightlessly and effortlessly waltzing in a circle before being ousted off stage. The male is being resuscitated back to life but he seems bent on letting go, on embracing death with open arms. Having succumbed to death, his body is then pushed away in what appears to be the farewell dance. The bodies may rot, but the stories of these two, representative as they are of multitudinous others, will live on in our shared memory. The two bodies are carried away only to give way to two green spots, intimating that their death is the threshold to a new life. One of the guards now has to rub out the bloodstains on the floor, but can he rub out the memory that will heretofore haunt him? The other guard flexes his muscles with his oratorical skills. He speaks of the end of everything, no more coffee time, no more smell of coffee grains, no more freedom, no more seasons. He puncuates his speech with moments in which he deliriously stomps the prisoner making him turn and turn. Ironically enough, his last words to the prisoner read as follows: ‘’Fancy a bird. Fancy a bee …’’. The prisoner may have had his freedom usurped, but none can take away his imagination, the imagination the unwary guard speaks of. As he exits, the stage turns into a giant screen. Perhaps, this is a journey into the mind of the prisoner, all s/he has left. Blood, tears and sweat roll down their cheeks as their bodies are put up upside down for their executioners to crush, smack and smash. The prisoners are being shown running amock but in vain as the executioners perennially and perpetually manage to catch them, pull their hair, drag them along, and toss them like cigarette butts. The thugs continue to relentlessly abuse their victims in every which way despite their supplications, implorations, their resignation. As a matter of fact, this is little more than a game for the puppeteers who will not relinquish the power they relish now that they have the underdogs under their thumbs. They use rags, water, soap, urine, electricity, thrashing and thrashing, and whatever means of torture is available to slay and fray the moaning lambs, Elhaouasse lucidly and luridly explicates. Every night, as the nightingales turn in, the nurse executioner turns up to patch up the gushes with salt and alcohol to ready them for yet another round. Months and months elapse; weeks and weeks slip by. But for Sunday, a moment of serendipity inviting serenity, the prisoners would not have kept count of weekdays. Sunday is the day the prisoners heave a sigh of relief insofar as the guards are nowhere near to be seen or heard. The stage is desolate, the characters unusually equanimous, but it is the lull that precedes the storm. On the other side of the wall can be heard the voices of guards’ children simulating what happens inside the prison walls. The children compete for the lead role the executioner dons. None wants to inhabit the trappings of the victims. As if in a reenactment of the dream the voiceover is having, the children take to the stage and then run behind the see-through curtain. They sway with the music. At this point, the borderlines between the dream and reality are blurred as they touch the prisoner in his cell. They toss him the way their fathers do. Their innocence is tainted with the corrupt world of adults. Their bodies, the children’s and the prisoner’s, merge into one mass of light. The deliberate choice El Haouasse makes not to unveil the identity of the dancers is very significant in more ways than one. In this sense, ‘’The one who dances does not represent an individuated human form but rather a multiple figuration of her body parts, of her form in figures that change from moment to moment. What we should actually ‘see’ is the invisible of the different ‘aspects’, of the human body in general’’.[12]A silhouette thus appears on stage. We soon realise that it must be the nameless wife of the prisoner in the cell reading out loud a letter she is addressing to her husband. The mental stress the wives of the imprisoned underwent is captured in the short and choppy utterances she makes in an eye-opening statement writ large to redefine victimhood. It is not just the prisoners who lead miserable, lamentable and deplorable lives in prison, but it is also their relatives, be they wives, children or parents in what may be aptly and rightly termed a collective ‘chastisement’. Being in the dark and not knowing where that cement box her husband is in adds to the wife’s distress. The wife vents out her anger with her husband, the regime, and with the world at large. The piano fills up the gaps she leaves as she gasps for words in a monologue turned dialogic so much so that she is both wife and husband. Becoming other helps her produce some of the answers she craves, and in speaking on behald of her husband she alleviates her loneliness, her solitude which is no less insidious than his solitary confinement. Having sought alibis for his absence, she then lashes out at him for forgetting all about her fragrance, her warmth, her touch, her coat, the colour of her shirt all the while supplanting that with slime, repulsive smells and stone-cold cement. This is an excerpt testifying to the psychological drain on women under duress whose only means of communicating were the epistolary writings, which bear the latent and blatant scars induced by weeks, months and, at times, years of forced disappearance. This sowed doubts, pestilous thoughts, into the minds of these weaklings which they sewed into emotionally laden letters this aside typifies and exemplifies. ‘’Combining music and gesture with words’’ in this way ‘’heightens their semantic dimension. They become laden with meaning’’.[13] In response to her outcry, the heart machine is heard transmitting the irregular heartbeats of the voice who admits to failing miserably in that he forcibly undersigned the confession indicting him. Darkness awaits him and his likes until ‘nobody knows when’. Gripped with constant fear, the no fewer than fifty prisoners fret under the pressure of overdue and long-delayed investigations. The audience find themselves at a vantage point having to watch the recorded memories behind the transparent wall, the prisoner as he tosses and turns in his cell which occupies a liminal space between the stage and wall, and last but not least, the forlorn woman on the stage as she waits and waits. Three intermeshing stories unfold concomitantly making of spectating a muddled multimodal process. In interpellating the purpose of and response to simultaneity, Lehmann comments

the parcelling of perception here becomes an unavoidable experience…the events perceived in one moment elude synthetization when they occur simultaneously and when the concentration on one particular aspect makes the clear registration of another impossible. Furthermore, the performance often leaves open whether there exists any real connection in what is being presented simultaneously or whether this is just an external contemporaneity…we are meant to pay attention to the concrete particular and at the same time perceive the totality…In this sense, the place of the organic, knowable whole is taken by the unavoidable and commonly ‘forgotten’ fragmentary character of perception that is explicitly rendered conscious in postdramatic theatre.[14]

That the figure of a woman stands literally in the dark tells of how she is figuratively kept in the dark unaware of the fate of those she cares for and worries about. This visual technique of superimposing and juxtaposing bits and fragments of the same story is a devised postdramatic device par excellence, a testament to the death of the linear mode of seeing and birth of a mode of perception anchored in a ‘’simultaneous and multi-perspectival form’’.[15] When the green light is turned on, it falls solely and exclusively on the man and woman as if it somehow connects them, but the darkness that comes between the duo is so pervasive it stands in their way as though it were a wall. The voiceover takes us on an introspective journey into the boggled mind of the prisoner as he babbles on and on as if he were writing in response to his long-suffering wife. He tells her, us, of how he revels in trifles, makes up conversations in his head, dreams of being stung by sunrays, of seeing colours, of doing sports, of scratching his ear and so much more to keep going against all the odds. The exchange of letters goes on and on, and it is what the prisoner feeds on, lives on. With background music in the air, the man and woman dance together but not quite so. The man, torso-naked, dances from behind the wall while the damsel dances on the other side of the fence. Their bodies are in tune as they lose themselves to the music, which momentarily creates a thirdness they converge and convene at. The sound of the music is turned down when the duo put their hands on the wall and crumble to their feet. This time, however, with the seeds of doubts deeply planted in her psyche, the woman suspects the man of treachery. How can he love her when he has not tupped and topped her? How can he pretend to loving her when he indulges in masturbation? When he has not witnessed her orgasm? When he has not ploughed her? The weight of her tirade is too painful she falls to the ground as she unleashes her litany of accusations, accusations replete with her frustration, her deprivation, her wantonness. If imagination is what sustains the man, it is hardly the cure for the woman’s fiery desire. Boredom is softly killing her. Boredom, boredom and boredom are the words we hear, she hears, everyone hears uttered, spoken, sung and echoed. In fine, the repeated outbursts of the woman offer a window into her soul and her decrepit mental state. States take precedence over actions; hence the appellation postdramatic theatre earned as ‘’a theatre of states’’.[16] The light El Haouasse paints the background with every now and then ‘’reinforces the idea of a unity of natural processes and human occurrences. It is also for this reason that whatever the players do, say and manifest in their movements loses the character of intentional actions. Their undertakings seem to be occurring as in a dream’’. Action gives way to ‘’occurrences, of continual metamorphosis, the space of action appears as a landscape continually changed by different states of light, appearing and disappearing objects and figures.’’[17]

In a conversation a nameless prisoner has with one of the guards, the audience can infer that the prisoner is more of an intellectual far more patriotic than the guard. He goads the guard into giving him a ‘fag’, which he then uses as evidence against him. He also manipulates the guard who fails to sing the national anthem, which he can only whistle away. This also corroborates the aforementioned idea that these guards could not think, and perhaps that is why they hold these postions in which doing, not thinking, is required. The smuggling of cigarettes by the greedy guards into the facilty accounts for how letters come to be exchanged between loved ones. More darkness sets in; more boredom as time tick tocks. The nameless woman reappears on stage desperate for love. Passion-stricken, the beast in the woman is now unleashed. Hysterical, she pitches up her tone shouting at he who hears her to howl and growl, growl and howl, but strangely enough it she who is growling and howling with the fire and desire now eating her up and down. Two guards toss a woman to and fro and then on the floor where she lies still. As though he saw it all, the man behind the bars dances in agony, in twists and knots, revelatory of his impotence and impuissance. Neither can he quench the ever-growing desire of the woman he dreams of, nor can he quell the harasment she is a victim to. The sonorous sound of utensils combined with the rain lashing down together with the thunderstrom all collude to create an acoustic effect suggestive of the visceral rage filling up his entrails.

The dyadic relationship between the man and the woman has now become triadic with the appearance of a girl whose only fault is that she happens to be the daughter of the very man who has been put away. She speaks to the doll of her phantom father. The doll and the father have more in common than meets the eye. They are both salient by their silence, conspicuous by their absence; both are lifeless being toyed with and carried on a wheelbarrow.  The father has nothing left to be remembered for: ‘’no pictures, no tie, no smell, nothing whatsoever’’, she cries out while addressing her doll, the doll that stands in for her father. She synecdochally represents all the children whose childhood was cut short by the forcible disappearance of their fathers. In giving a child a voice to speak, El Haouasse has thrown into relief yet another side of the story which goes unnoticed when one, almost everyone, alludes to the victims of the Years of Lead. As is the case here, the concept of victimhood may as well be extended and expanded to encompass children, for all the ache they were forced to endure in utter silence at such a tender age and for far too long having to grow up without fathers in proximity.

In a heart-wrenching aside and while all else is swathed in darkness, the girl is dressed in white, the colour of chastity and innocence, in stark contrast with her surroundings. Evil, we should infer, is ubiquitous save for this speck of whiteness. The doll is treated as though it were the father she so yearns for and yet reprimands for the inexplicable overdue absence. This is a purgatory moment of catharsis wherein her feelings for her father oscillate between love and hatred, fear and desire, love as shown in the hug and hate as manifest in throwing the doll on the floor, the fear of the unknown and the desire to embrace it. I dare say that this moment borders on the tragic insofar as it arouses mixed emotions. Such a phrase Lehman would readily object to since tragedy and the polis/political are imbricated and have little, if any, room in postdramatic theatre. ‘’Where we find the tragic, we hit upon the political’’[18], asserts Lehmann. Lehmann goes on to elucidate his objections to the use of the term tragedy. Tragedy, he posits, presents suffering as inevitable[19], which, in my understanding, justifies it. With eyes brimming with tears, the little girl, it appears, has learnt to harness, muster and channel her tears and fears into laughter by way of laughing the whole matter off as if she does not want to be yet another tragic heroine. Not knowing who her father is, she has learnt how to surmount the insurmountable, to tame her fears and to survive head up in the air. She does not want our pity, nor does she need our empathy. All she wants are answers none can provide but the disappeared or those responsible for such a forcible disappearance. It takes the father but a split second to respond with fervour and ardour in a letter the voiceover reads out. The notions of time and space are here transgressed producing an ‘effet irréel’, yet one that is so grounded in the real. Apologetic, the father ascribes his absence to his work. He has so much work to do he barely has time to spare. In his mouthpiece, he is the new Hercules, the demi-god, being entrusted with ten impossible missions to accomplish. Once accomplished, he will join her so they can dream together. The myth he weaves about the feats he pulls off is best suited for a child’s world in that it will strengthen his daughter mentally in the hope of a forthcoming encounter, a mythical encounter. In attempting to empower his daughter to stand tall, he winds up empowering himself, becoming the Hercules he compares himself to. There is a streak of truth in what he says about Hercules and him, him and Hercules, for they both find themselves in macabre circumstances having to take on monsters too gruesome to be fought. Taming darkness, enduring starvation, living under duress in deprivation and in separation, resisting torture, overcoming the test of time, killing boredom and surviving inhuman(e) conditions, which only a Hercules could have endured, are no less heroic feats than those Hercules once accomplished. Hail, the Moroccan Hercules. Allegorisation in the form ‘’mythical imagery here takes the place of action, satisfying a ‘postmodern’ pleasure in the quotation of imaginary worlds whose time has passed’’,[20] and whose memory lingers on.


[1] Hans-Thies Lehmann, Postdramatic Theatre, p. 4. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge: London and New York, 2006.

[2] Ibid., p. 25.

[3] Ibid., p. 27. Trans.

[4] Brandon Woolf, ‘’ Towards a Paradoxically Parallaxical Postdramatic Politics?’’, p. 34. In Karen Jürs-Munby, Jerome Carroll and Steve Giles (eds.) Postdramatic Theatre and the Political: International Perspectives on Contemporary Performance. London, NY, Sydney, New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013.

[5] Hans-Thies Lehmann, Postdramatic Theatre, p. 134. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge: London and New York, 2006.

[6] Erika Fischer-Lichte, The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies, p. 143. Trans. Minou Arjomand. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.

[7] Ibid., pp. 129-130.

[8] Hans-Thies Lehmann, Postdramatic Theatre, p. 163. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge: London and New York, 2006.

[9] Ibid., p. 148.

[10] Ibid., p. 85.

[11] Ibid., p. 10.

[12] Ibid., p. 94.

[13] Erika Fischer-Lichte, The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies, p. 143. Trans. Minou Arjomand. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.

[14] Hans-Thies Lehmann, Postdramatic Theatre, p. 88. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge: London and New York, 2006.

[15] Ibid., p. 16.

[16] Ibid., p. 68.

[17] Ibid., pp. 80-81.

[18] Hans-Thies Lehmann, ‘’ A Future for Tragedy? Remarks on the Political and the Postdramatic’’, p. 90. In Karen Jürs-Munby, Jerome Carroll and Steve Giles (eds.) Postdramatic Theatre and the Political: International Perspectives on Contemporary Performance. London, NY, Sydney, New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Hans-Thies Lehmann, Postdramatic Theatre, p. 93. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge: London and New York, 2006. In Karen Jürs-Munby, Jerome Carroll and Steve Giles (eds.) Postdramatic Theatre and the Political: International Perspectives on Contemporary Performance. London, NY, Sydney, New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013.

Works cited:

El Haouasse, Abdelmajid, dir. (2015). Bitter Trees. Morocco: Aphrodite Theatre. Accessed at


Fischer-Lichte, Erika (2008). The Transformative Power of Performance: a new aesthetics. Trans. Saskya Iris Jain. London and New York: Routledge.

(2014). The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies. Trans. Minou Arjomand. London and New York: Routledge.

Jürs-Munby, Karen, Carroll, Jerome and Giles, Steve, eds. (2013). Postdramatic Theatre and the Political: International Perspectives on Contemporary Performance. London, NY, Sydney, New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Lehmann, Hans-Thies (2006). Postdramatic Theatre. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge: London and New York.

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Tayeb Saddiki (1938- 2016) was a theatre director, actor, and playwright from Essaouira, a coastal …

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