To start off my weekend, I went to see my niece perform at Al Hanouneh. Looking back at it now, I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised.
There is something about children expressing themselves on stage that is always invigorating to me. I personally feel that they are at the heights of their creativity.
Last Thursday, at the Royal Cultural Center, the Al Hanouneh kids did not prove me wrong. They performed a tale from Palestinian folk culture titled “Blaibil”. The play was a musical where they acted, sang, and performed the Dabkeh (Palestinian folk Dance). What I liked most, was that the performance was authentic. They were the energy in the room, because unlike other plays which my niece drags me to, the stage props were minimal, the singing was not a recorded playback but rather it was them singing with their own voices and more importantly, modern technology was not used to make the stage seem bigger, better, or brighter than it is. Technology was not used either to make their voices sound better than they are, or their dancing to look more perfected. In fact, it was a low budget play, but the kids made it worth watching.
To me, the Al Hanouneh folk group are doing something very important, they are working to keep the identity of a culture that can easily be forgotten behind the effects of occupation. This is exactly what makes such events worth attending.
However, because this is a low-budget play, it was 15 minutes late to start, and of course, we do live in Jordan, where someone almost always must complain about something.
So, while standing in the queue many people did complain. This particular queue had a space for the theorist, i.e. the person who was standing at the back giving us his theories about what should or shouldn’t happen. In this case, this theorist kept saying, “you know in such instances, the organizers should have started organizing earlier.” Of course, he kept repeating these theories, thinking that miraculously he will increase his chances of entering the theater faster.
On the other side of the queue stood the chorus lady, i.e. a lady who kept repeating the words, “this is such a lack in organization.”, hoping that someone will feel guilty and allow her to enter faster, or at best someone will even acknowledge her repeated comment.
Standing in the back was also a woman who perfected the role of the complainer, as she kept saying “I was here an hour ago because I had to drop off my kid who is acting.” And, last but not least, the queue also included a drama generator, a man who made standing in the queue seem like a catastrophe. “There are pregnant women, old women, and children in the queue you have to let us in,” he shouted, thus, making seem like we were standing on ship that was about to sink. Of course, such people attract more people to complain, and soon everyone was complaining. Personally, I didn’t see why. It was only a 15-minute delay and the whole scene they were making was not worth it.
Thankfully, after the 15-minute delay, the audience was let in. However, they were not the most lively of audiences. They took themselves so seriously to the point where they hardly clapped when the kids were dancing and they hardly sang with the kids too. Moreover, they were not the politest audience either as some of them decided to socialize while the kids were on stage. You would think that if they were so eager to get in, then they would be equally as eager to listen. But then again, the sense of importance amongst some people is too prevalent.
Never the less, this was a beautiful performance proving once again that Al Hanouneh are doing great work. They are working with kids and adults alike, to put art to the forefront of people’s attention. More importantly, they are teaching kids at a very early age, the importance of being part of a community, being part of a culture, and learning about a heritage in an age where such values can easily be forgotten behind the entertainment that modern technologies provide.