The “Smooth Life” is a solo storytelling performance for eight spectators by Husam Abed, a refugee from Palestine. His key life events are retold in the most unique way possible, using impressive tools to catch his audience; for instance, each of his family members is portrayed as a single grain of rice, then later as poorly-looking wooden puppets, handmade vehicles race across a map of the Middle East, and a photographic documentary slide-show is projected on a wall behind Abed for parts of the show. The simplicity used in this performance is tricky though; at first it may seem ridiculous to the spectators, but the feeling changes within a few minutes.
Husam Abed, originally a chemistry student in Jordan, started studying a Master Degree in Directing for Alternative and Puppet Theatre at DAMU in Prague four years ago. He has been performing puppet shows for children around the world ever since then. His main focus, though, remains in refugee camps in Jordan. The last time he visited Amman in December 2014, helping children to make puppets to tell their own life stories.
His puppet show happens on a round table in a small owl-lighted room. From the entrance visitors can smell the aroma of black Ahmad tea, which is being brewed in a back corner. The performance is accompanied by Palestinian music playing in the background. The focus is on the table – map with grains of rice or puppets that Abed uses to describe his life.
The show lasts for an hour and followed by a 30-minute shared traditional Palestinian “upside-down” meal called Maqluba that Abed made himself. The meal opens an opportunity for a discussion with the audience, the performer and his Hungarian wife Réka Deák, who coordinates the slideshow, and makes the crude – wooden puppets for the performance.
“There’s a story behind each person,” concludes Abed, after a moving evening full of funny yet sad personal confessions, flavors, knowledge and delicious meal.
Abed’s “Smooth Life” will be performed at Akcent—the International Festival of Documentary Theatre at Archa Theatre on November 25th & 26th with two shows per evening. The number of seats is limited. Tickets can be booked at http://vstupenky.divadloarcha.cz
By Michaela Mikesova