Nanbel’s Moe Shreif

Jul 27, 2016

First, I really don’t like talking about myself nor know how to, to be honest.

Nanbel started as a need, or a window from which Semaan Khawam (co-writer) and I could give free expression to our discontent, and hold up a mirror to a society that is sentimentally and unapologetically criminal. Nanbel – Lebnan (Lebanon) spelt backwards – is a fictitious village inhabited by characters from real life, but who are naturally absurd.

This village, however, can be anywhere in the world at anytime. Absurdity is universal. This absurdity is a necessity that comes from within the human condition and is also formulated by us.

In my research on Julius Caesar, I discovered that I was still dealing with Nanbel. The new characters; objects, lights, selfies, sounds… all come from that place. – Moe Shreif

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: Research characters

I have been researching Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in the aim of using different media to produce this play in a fresh and approachable way that would also offer new interpretations and approaches to performance and production.

My hope is that a new audience would emerge that would embrace rather than fear – take on board rather than be put off by – this writer’s text, which has been unintentionally harmed by the idolization of the bard and the misinterpretation and haphazard quoting of his words.

I have – playfully – used objects, lights, and selfies as research characters. This is evident in this research video shared here, in which, following Julius Caesar’s assassination, his friend Antony speaks in his “funeral” to the Roman masses after obtaining the permission of his killers, particularly the “noble Brutus.”

In the second example, I’m using one of Shakespeare’s famous poems as research into new interpretations: sonnet 18 (Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day). The common interpretation that you would find in CliffsNotes for example, is that this is a love poem and that Shakespeare is speaking about a young man he loved, or youth’s beauty transcending that of nature and bla bla. I really don’t share this interpretation at all. In fact, I (along with a few other people) believe this is a poem Shakespeare wrote for his only son Hamnet, who died age 11. Shakespeare wanted to immortalize him, and uses the only way he can to do so; words.

He is not boasting that his poetry is eternal. On the contrary, he is in a state of despair. He seems helpless, or vulnerable, as he looks for a way to bring his son back to life… somehow.I can hear him write these words while sobbing: “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see / So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”

Calpurnia's Dream (1600) Friends Romans Countrymen (1600)

Sailing (1600)