Kharabeesh Borrowing my Work

عادة ما بدقق لما حدا يسر … قصدي … يستعير فكرة أو تيشرت، وصارت، بس المشكلة هالمرة هاظي مش نهفة من نهفات الانترنت ويلي مش شايف السر … قصدي الاستعارة الفكرية القميئة والقذرة ورح يبرر توارد خواطر والعقول البهية الطلعة بتفكر نفس الشيء بحب أقوله على قولة أبو محجوب، “هلا عمي!”

وإذا راح أندم على شغلة فهو لفتح حوار راح يشعتل حياتي لكم من ساعة. ونقطة

والله كبرتوا في عيني يا خرابيش

بس بصراحة غلبتوا حالكم بتفاصيلكم مثل لون القلم والاخطبوط وطريقة الكتابة: يعني النقطة عندكم تحت

وبصراحة أنا ما بعرف مين مصمم البوستر بس بشكروا على المهنية الفنية والابداح

تكلم السردين، 2015

A while ago I tweeted the following:

“Wake up, Wake up / Grab a brush “Ya Hind” and put a little makeup! System of Yehia ِAl Saud! Stay strong Miss Fayez!”

It was my way of commenting on the incident in which MP Yehia Al Saud, ordered MP Hind Al Fayez to have a seat during her recent outburst.The phrasing itself, “Eg3odi Ya Hind!” with the tone he used and in our Arabian society is a phrase that automatically translates to “be quiet!” and not in a very polite context.

Fortunately for us and every woman in Jordan, and in the Middle East, MP Hind Al Fayez stood her ground. Her bold stance made international headlines.

I am positive that if my Editor Mr. Walid Kalaji (Abu Hassan) was alive he would have written an editorial of what happened under the supposed “Jordanian Dome of Democracy!” I am also positive Miss Maha Al Sharif, our most patient boss, would have also had a say in the matter.

Abu Hassan would have upplauded MP Al Fayez for standing her ground. Ghassan Joha would have most probably been there.

“I am glad you stood your guns!” he once told me after I finished defending a piece that I have written. It was a piece that was slated for publishing. I cannot remember if my piece was not altered but to be honest after giving a good reasonable fight you somewhat feel a little better about yourself when it does get altered.

I always fought for my pieces with every editor I worked with at The Star, and other local publications. Ali Al Khalil, one of the bright editors, and a man I admired for his love of arts, films and books, was no exception.

Journalists, writers, and editors are supposed to give each other headaches. If there are no headaches the result of arguments about a sentence/a paragraph; its phrasing; or the information it is supposed to entail within the mind of a reader that very sentence/paragraph would be lifeless, if not useless.

I am guessing I am missing journalism and my own State of Play or “Something Something Dark Side.” Major spoiler ahead! Yes, I watched State of Play (2009), directed by Kevin Macdonald, starring Russel Crowe, Rachel MacAdams and Dame Helen Mirren, the other day.

As the end credits rolled by to the visuals of a newspaper in print to the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s As Long As I See the Light I found myself yearning to those sleepless nights. You see I was there amidst a family of journalists!

Time to stop reminiscing!

In addition to that Tweet about the Og3odi Ya Hind incident a t-shirt with the hopeful hash-tag that came to be #la_teg3odi_ya_hind was made with the help of a friend and a fellow cartoonist, and with one thing in mind:

A simple design … but a loud message.

Hind Don't Sit
For a better Jordan where no one asks you to have a seat by saying “Og3od/Og3odi!”

Good day all :-})

 

Hello all.

2015 is upon us like a Shakespearean mist enveloping my city, Amman, in the month of January.

The following words that you will read in script format are part of a project that was never to be for many reasons. I hope you enjoy reading them.

They are part of my attempts of dreaming big and yet failing to bring these dreams full circle; I won’t disclose the circumstances that led to this failure, however, I acknowledge that my biggest failure in the past two years was helping others fulfill their own dreams neglecting my own.

Time to move on and forward.

Sardine, a.k.a, Mike V. Derderian, or the man behind the Brick in the Head dashboard

2015

 

Chapter One: 1911 – 1920

The Ottoman Empire

EXT. DESERT – Day

 

Prologue:

What came before that shot?

A bright horizon gives silhouette to erected enormous tents. A group of heavily armed men just arrived. A dignified bearded man dismounts from his camel.

The shot that shaped this piece of sacred earth.

 

The bearded man’s back is to the crowd. He reaches down to a handgun strapped around his waist in an embroidered gun holster.

The shot that united them all under one flag and turned them all into brothers.

He opens the pistol. There are no bullets in the chamber. He turns around and gestures to one of his men; a broad shouldered Bedouin.

 

The shot whose symbolic echo was far louder than the actual one.

The broad shouldered Bedouin, who was talking to a group of tough looking men, walks towards the bearded old man.

The shot that ricochets to this day.

The old man is locking the gun. He turns around scanning everything in sight: The tents, the mud houses, the camels, the horses, the men and the women, and the children, who are playfully running around. He eventually fixes his eyes at his man.

 

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“I don’t seem to have any bullets left? Hassan! Go ask Hamed for a couple of bullets.”

Hassan:

“But I have bullets with me my lord!”

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali

“If he tells you that he hasn’t any tell him the Sharif knows.”

Hassan:

“Very well my lord!”

Hassan runs off and disappears amidst a sea of white, gray and black fabric – the attire of the converging Bedouins come out like extensive waves of fabric through which children can be seen playing.

The serenity is broken with a crescendo of shouts. Two men drag a third and throw him in the middle of a circle of men.

Man 3:

Please don’t. I only did because I had to feed my family. You would have all done the same.

Man 1:

Sell us all to the Turks for a couple of golden coins! You will die for this. Your family will not bear the brunt of your treachery. They will be taken care of.

The second man pulls out a pistol and shoots the man, the collaborator, in the head to the cheering of the crowd. Someone throws a cloth over the dead man. Everyone gets back to doing what they are doing.

Two kids approach the body and try to take a look. Hassan angrily chides them. They run away.

Hassan (to himself):

You are too young to stare death in the eye. You will in time.

Sharif Hussein bin Ali stood from afar watching. He was waiting for Hassan to return with the bullet.

Hassan:

“Here you go sir. He gave me 20 bullets.”

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“I only need one.”

Hassan:

“But how did you know!”

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“Yesterday, I saw him bag two ammunition belts from a dead man. We need every bullet to succeed. Ask the men to converge. It is time.”

The Sharif takes the bullet and slides it into the pistol’s chamber. He approaches an elevated makeshift platform.

The Bearded Man, Sharif Hussein bin Ali:

“People of Ma’an, do you know why we are gathered here? Today, we will write with our own blood as ink new sentences into the book of history. Let this shot be our shout to freedom. Remember it well and tell your children so that they in turn tell their children about it.”

The Sharif draws his pistol and fires it in the air. The crowd cheers as the Sharif and his men head to his camel. He and his men ride out of Ma’an and into the horizon of a red sunrise.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1985

On route to Damas

EXT. A Bustling CITY. It is midday. American MUSCLE CARS, that travel the Damascus and Beirut route, line the sides of the renowned Abdali Street.

Old travel agencies are everywhere.

A thick mustachioed MAN can be seen leaning over cars that come in proximity to the parked travel cars. He comes too close to a TAXI that was slowly approaching an old and poorly furnished travel agency.

Man:

Syria! Beirut! Do you need a car?

The YOUNG PASSENGER hesitated for a second before nodding. The man smiled as he gestured to the taxi DRIVER to pull over.

Narrator: 

Nothing would prepare Ismail to what he and others in the Arab world will experience in 20 years.

Not even the most skilled coffee cup soothsayers saw it within the coagulating black trails.

I did not see it coming. No one will see it coming.

When it comes everyone will see it, feel it and live it.

The man quickly tried to pry the passenger away from his suitcase and backpack but he couldn’t. The young man, Ismail, dropped the suitcase in the trunk.

Man:

Give me your passport!

Ismail:

Wait a minute. It is in my backpack. Here you go.

The man quickly runs to the office. In the meantime Ismail decides to buy a falafel sandwich for the road. He peeks into the oil basin where FALAFEL DISCS bubble into a crisp.

The Falafel VENDOR picks up three discs that he smashes inside a half-folded circular BREAD sheet. He quickly, and quite elegantly, twirls the sandwich inside a perfect paper wrap, before slipping it into a YELLOW plastic BAG.

Ismail:

Thank you.

He heads to the parked DODGE and places his backpack at the right side of the backseat. He stands next to the door.

Ismail:

God I am tired. I cannot wait for the driver to take off. I miss Damascus. I just wish …

The man and the DRIVER, a burly fellow, dressed in a pair of dark jeans and an unbuttoned brown shirt, approach the car with a young woman. Distracted by her beautiful features Ismail did not notice the TWO MEN who slipped into the front seat.

The Driver:

Time to head out! You guys have to sit in the back. Come on.

MAN 1:

But we came first!

The Driver:

Would you want your sister to sit next to stranger? Come on, to the back.

MAN 2:

As my friend said we came first. We already told your office we want the backseats.

The Driver (rather angrily):

It is my car; my rules. Do you want to get to the Syrian border before 11 or do you want to stay here?

Both men give in and head back to backseat and sit next to Ismail, who made sure he is sitting next to the window.

Narrative Box:

Like a beast running through the open plains. The Dodge roared its way into the Jordanian checkpoint. Two hours later it was parked next to a Hafez Al Assad statue.

EXT. DODGE parked in front of the statue.

INT. Inside the DODGE.

Man 1:

Do you always drive at 110 miles per hour?

The WOMAN:

What’s all this commotion? Why are we waiting in line? We’ve been stuck here for the past 20 minutes.

The Driver:

It seems they caught a water tank that was attempting to smuggle three men into Jordan.

Ismail:

If they caught them then why haven’t they moved the tanker?

The Driver:

They all died. They suffocated from the unbearable heat and no one is daring to go inside the tank.

The Woman:

Such a sad fate!

Ismail:

A fate that you only read in passages taken from a tragic Palestinian novels!

The Woman:

How deep! Are you studying in Syria? You look like a student.

Before Ismail can answer the woman, and to his dismay, the Driver growls.

The Driver:

Alright! Everyone out of the car! Grab your passports and get them stamped. See you all in a bit. Give me your passport Miss Serene. You can stay in the car until they call your name.

The Woman:

No I will come with you.

INT.PASSPORTS BUILDING

It is gray and decrepit. The glass windows are stained. Its corners are covered with FLIES. PASSENGERS, DRIVERS and ARMY and SECURITY PERSONNEL fill the place.

Narrative Box:

Cascading rivers of black cover the whiteness of her shoulders. She is a goddess traveling with a band of mortals. Her glances pierce throw the most gilded of armors.

INT. Ismail is leaning on the queue rail. He is standing next to the two men, who are traveling with them. To his opposite is the woman.

INT. Passports BOOTH. An officer approaches the glass and starts addressing the crowd.

 Ismail:

Finally! I am going to see my lovely Sham!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

2001

Joha’s Nail

Ext. A busy street in Beirut’s Al Hamra St. The BUILDINGS are alive. Women and men are going in and out of their balconies. Some women are hanging wet clothes on laundry lines. Some are sitting drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

Narration Box:

It is 2001. In a couple of hours an event with cataclysmic effects will sweep through the United States of America and then the Middle East.

Lives will be affected and changed.

Anyone who has read The Prophecies of Nostradamus will know what just happened.

Having gone through a dying empire, a foreign occupation, a Civil War and Zionist aggression the Lebanese, of all Arab people, learned how to live.

INT. In a different neighborhood an old looking CAFÉ is filled with elderly gentlemen and young men, who are playing CARDS, smoking HOOKAH and drinking COFFEE and TEA.

A television hanging by a metallic extension from the wall is playing Um Kholthom.

All is quiet until the BUSBOY rushes to the television and changes the channel. He is quite nervous. Once he finds the channel he raises the volume. Everyone at the café is now listening to the NEWS ANCHOR.

NEWS ANCHOR:

Two planes just crashed into the Two Towers, or what is known in the financial world as The World Trade Center Buildings, in New York.

A moment of silence follows before a MAN wearing Glasses yells “Allah Akbar.”

Man wearing glasses:

Allah Akbar ya shabab! Finally someone gave those Americans a taste of their own medicine.

Other men join in and shout “Allah Akbar.”

An OLD MAN sitting at a far corner does not join the crowd in their cheers and congratulatory hugs. In front of him are stacks of RUSSIAN LITERATURE BOOKS and some POSTERS in A4 format.

Narration box:

Hakim suddenly remembered how the men and women of their time cheered whenever an operation against the Israelis proved to be a success.

If he learned anything over the years it is that politics, foreign politics, is like quicksand. Every time his people attempted a move it sunk their bodies deeper into the sand.

Hakim:

Cheer as much as you want. The powers that be will turn this victory into a victory of their own.

He looks around with sad eyes. He feels sorry for them. He then takes a look at his watch. He is expecting someone.

Hakim:

Fools! Do you ever learn! Our fight is no longer a fight of the gun it is a fight of knowledge. Haven’t you heard of Joha’s nail! Where is that journalist?

At that moment a young man carrying a BAG filled with PAPER rushes into the loud café. He looks distressed.

Young man:

Hello sir. I am sorry I am late. Everyone has gone mad over the Twin Tower bombing. I just got a call from my editor asking me to report to the office. I told him I have to meet you first.

Hakim:

It is okay Ismail. I am sure this will enrich our conversation about the Palestinian resistance and my involvement. Different times; different weapons! Tell me have you heard of Joha’s nail?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Where Art Thou My Beautiful Sham

EXT. CUSTOMS BUILDING. JORDANIAN BORDER: JABER – NASEEB border. An establishing shot.

INT. Customs Building. The place is filled with anxious PASSENGERS, who are standing in long lines.

Some are shouting. Some are crying. Some are angry.

A man nearing his mid 30s, ISMAIL, pushes his way through a sea of passenger. He clings on to the MARBLE edge of the passports BOOTH. He uses it to leverage himself closer to an OFFICER, who is trying to calm people.

Ismail:

Sidi! Sidi! Sidi! Sidi!

The last Sidi came closer to a shout filled with anguish.

Officer:

What? Why are you shouting?

Ismail:

What do you mean the border is closed?

Officer:

It is closed we just received government orders.

Ismail:

But I have family there. I have to be there today!

Officer:

Sorry. You all have to get back to Amman.

Elderly Woman:

But I have to get back to my family.

Officer:

Sorry Hajeh. There is nothing we can do.

Ismail looks to his left after hearing a WOMAN hold an ELDELRY woman.

Woman:

Don’t worry mother! We will find a way.

Elderly Woman:

There is no God but God. I am going to miss the burial of my dear husband; your father. I am afraid they will bury him without me. I won’t be able to kiss him goodbye. Oh my Ghada!

Woman (Ghada):

We will try to catch a plane to Syria tomorrow. Come on mother. The driver told us to head back to the car.

A younger MAN turns back and talks to the two women with a haughty voice.

Man:

What is the loss of a husband compared to the loss of Syria as a mother? How many of her children died.

Looking at the shocked women Ismail ignored the man.

Man:

What is the death of your husband?

Ismail this time decides to take action.

Ismail:

I don’t think they want to hear what you think about the death of their loved one. Why don’t you remind them of the children of Gaza? They are dying too. Why don’t you shut up and leave them alone.

Man:

And who the hell are you?

Ismail:

A man unlike you! Now shut up before I show you your worth. Leave these ladies alone.

The man glares at Ismail for a minute before he pushes his way out of the line and outside the Customs building.

Ghada:

Thank you!

Ismail:

You are welcome!

Ghada:

You could have gotten into trouble. Everyone is a preacher nowadays.

Ismail:
If there is something I hate: It is those who trade religion and morals. Excuse me!

Ismail re-focuses his attention at the officer and yells.

Ismail:

I just have one question Sidi. Do you think the airspace is open? Can I travel by plane?

Officer:

Do I look like a flight attendant to you? Go back to Amman. You will know.

Ismail (to himself):

Idiot! I cannot believe this is happening. Three hours away from my beloved Sham.

As Ghada held the hand of her mother she couldn’t resist talking to this stranger one more time before heading to the car.

Ghada (to herself):

Come on say something.

Ismail notices how the woman is looking at him.

Ghada:

Good luck with seeing your family. Once again thank you for putting that man in his place.

Ismail:

It was my pleasure. I apologize on behalf of the real men of this world. I hope you reach your father’s funeral in time. I am sorry I just overheard your mother.

Ghada:

Thank you. I hope so too. The world has gone mad. Who would have imagined this happening to Syria?

Ismail:

As they say, “from the rubbles a new city shall rise.”

Ghada:

In Syria’s case it is a question of when will it end before everyone rises from the rubbles to build this new city! I never dreamt of a divided Syria. Hate and death knocking at the gates of Arab unity!

The women’s taxi driver in quick footsteps approaches the ladies.

Taxi Driver:

Miss Ghada and Madame Agha please we need to head back now before the rush.

Ghada:

Good luck again and goodbye.

Ismail:

Goodbye.

Ismail watches as the two women leave the customs building.

Ismail (to himself):

Goodbye Ghada Agha!

He looks at his Jordanian passport and flips one of its pages.

Ismail (reading to himself):

His Majesty The King Of Jordan requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely and without let or hindrance, and to afford them every assistance and protection necessary.

Only to those who bear it! Hmm!

A few moments later he realizes he is the last to leave the customs building. The atmosphere is desolate and lethargy governs the motion of everyone within the premises.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Late 2013

Sham

Ext. QASA3 neighborhood in Damascus, Syria. A MORTAR ROUND just landed on a CAR. PEOPLE are running in the streets.

Another explosion rattled adjacent buildings. A lot of windows shattered due to the pressure resulting from the explosion that left TWO vehicles in flame. It was a car bomb.

A WOMAN over forty with beautiful features and body rushes to her house’s balcony; what is left of it.

The woman falls down to her knees as she realizes that her home is torn open.

A MAN, her husband, rushes to the room.

Man:

Fadia. Fadia! Oh my God. Sham was sitting on the balcony with Yosra.

He leaves

Narration box:

The night before Sham dialed an international number. She did not know it would be the last time she talks to the man she fell in love a year ago on the campus of Damascus University’s Dentistry Faculty.

Sham:

I know how hard it is for you to book a flight to Beirut now. I wish to see you.

Ismail:

I know. I am just not sure about the drive from Beirut to Damascus. I haven’t told you but I already booked a ticket for next week.

Sham:

Are you serious? Ismail are you sure you want to come. The flight from Amman to Beirut is rather safe but I am worried about the taxi trip.

Ismail:

I’ve made up my mind. If my idiot government did not close the borders I would be in Damascus with you and all the mortar rounds that are hanging in the skies won’t stop me from taking you to Al Nofara Café in Bahb Thoma! I miss you.

 Sham:

I miss you with every single cell in my body.

Ismail:

Did you set up the Skype account as I told you!

Sham:

Yes!

Ismail:

My father and mother will call your parents tomorrow to ask your hand in marriage. I want to take you away from this madness.

Sham is taken aback by the last sentence. Ismail’s voice faintly echoes through the telephone speaker.

Sham:

I want to be with you more than anything in this burning world but we talked about this.

Ismail:

I know but I want us to be together.

Sham:

Let us talk about this later. In the meantime have you been daydreaming?

Ismail:

Yes and writing too. I am writing a collection of short stories. It is called Sham’s Jasmine.

Sham:

Is it about someone I know!

Ismail:

No! It is about someone I know.

Sham:

Listen it is getting late. I have an early lecture tomorrow. I will call you after the lecture.

Ismail:

Do you have to go to the university? If it is up to me I would lock you in the house.

Sham:

And give what those bastards want? Our lives! I have to graduate this year so I can start a practice. Don’t you want to marry Doctor Sham Jamal?

Ismail:

I do! I do! Very well but you be careful and try to get home as quick as possible.

Sham:

I will. I love you. Good night habibi!

Ismail:

Goodnight.

Narration box:

And that’s how a life in the making ended; with a hopeful note of a better tomorrow. Fate had other plans. A day of mourning was in the making for a lot people in different countries.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Late 2008

The New Iraq

Ext. The SUN is two hours away from setting. Gray BUILDINGS line the BAGHDADI HORIZON. A large dust CLOUD indicates a nearby EXPLOSION.

Narration box:

Baghdad never looked more tired. Car bombs and suicide bombers have spread like blisters on the skin of a leper, who just refuses to die. The city’ gray concrete color comes out as broken skin, and its people are the blood flowing through its vein-like streets.

EXT. An old BUILDING façade reflective of the architecture style of the 70s. A MAN can be seen looking down from one of the building’s windows. He looks rather composed. His name is Masoud Daoud, he is one of the lawyers, who worked in building a case against Saddam. He is talking to his secretary; a woman with distinct handsome Iraqi features.

Masoud:

Not a day passes without a cowardly suicide bombing. What do they benefit from killing people, who just finished praying to Allah? Iraq is heading to nowhere Maram.

Maram:

We cannot lose hope Mr. Daoud. You of all people should feel proud to have been part of Iraq’s liberation.

Masoud:

  What liberation Maram? The tyrant, who many in the Arab world now mourn, is gone but far more vicious monsters have come in his place. Iraq is filled with Hydras and no Hercules.

Narration Box:

They found Saddam Hussein but they haven’t found his cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Saddam Hussein, a much feared and loved Arab leader, dictator and executioner, was hanged on Saturday 30th December 2006.

INT. MEN CLAD in BLACK MASKS approach a MAN, whose hands are tied, from behind. SADDAM can be seen with a rope on his neck. His EYES are as brutal as ever.

Narration Box:

It is 2008 and they still haven’t found the excuse that Bush and his administration used to divide and conquer Iraq.

Maram:

You make it sound like you failed sir.

Masoud:

You make it sound like I’ve succeeded. Have you heard of Joha’s nail Maram?

The telephone rings. Maram picks it up.

Maram:

It is Richard from the Green Zone. George Bush has arrived and they’ve requested a meeting with you.

Masoud:

Great! Just what I and Iraq need at the moment: A puppet. How I wish if that shoe hit him in the face! You have to hand it to him the idiot has moves like Jagger!

Maram laughs. She adjusts Masoud’s tie and bids him farewell. He leaves the office. Maram heads towards a rusty filing cabiet and starts sorting out some files.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Late 2008

The New Iraq

Ext. The SUN is two hours away from setting. Gray BUILDINGS line the BAGHDADI HORIZON. A large dust CLOUD indicates a nearby EXPLOSION.

Narration box:

Baghdad never looked more tired. Car bombs and suicide bombers have spread like blisters on the skin of a leper, who just refuses to die. The city’ gray concrete color comes out as broken skin, and its people are the blood flowing through its vein-like streets.

EXT. An old BUILDING façade reflective of the architecture style of the 70s. A MAN can be seen looking down from one of the building’s windows. He looks rather composed. His name is Masoud Daoud, he is one of the lawyers, who worked in building a case against Saddam. He is talking to his secretary; a woman with distinct handsome Iraqi features.

Masoud:

Not a day passes without a cowardly suicide bombing. What do they benefit from killing people, who just finished praying to Allah? Iraq is heading to nowhere Maram.

Maram:

We cannot lose hope Mr. Daoud. You of all people should feel proud to have been part of Iraq’s liberation.

Masoud:

  What liberation Maram? The tyrant, who many in the Arab world now mourn, is gone but far more vicious monsters have come in his place. Iraq is filled with Hydras and no Hercules.

Maram:

You make it sound like you failed sir.

Masoud:

You make it sound like I’ve succeeded. Have you heard of Joha’s nail Maram?

Fin … for now!

Thank you for reading my words.

Once again never help others build their dreams on the expense of your very own dreams.

Sardine, a.k.a, Mike V. Derderian, or the man behind the Brick in the Head dashboard

2015

Coppella Main

A Ballet with 75 Performers

By Mike V. Derderian

The hall was overflowing with people. Wherever one looked there was someone sitting on the footsteps of the carpeted aisles of the theatre at the Royal Cultural Centre.

It was a Saturday, and to be more specific the 25th of October, 2014.

A month later I decided to write a review of the wonderful ballet, choreographed by the ever glowing Rania Kamhawi; a review I was supposed to write the moment I’ve returned home.

I was there with my wife and daughter Amie and like anything you would expect from The King Hussein Foundation: The National Centre for Culture & Art it was an evening of enchantment.

If there was any shortcoming, and there was one, it was not the fault of the 75 performers, Miss Kamhawi and the artistic and technical team behind Coppélia as a production; it was that of the theatre itself: It was too small for such an unforgettable beautiful performance.

Coppélia, as a ballet transcended the boundaries of the narrow stage of the Royal Palace. It was genuine and heartfelt; performed and played out with fervor by all 75 dancers.

If it wasn’t, the theatre hall wouldn’t have been overflowing with attendees to a degree that made having such a crowd in one single space rather dangerous if a fire, God forbid, broke out.

An elderly lady and three others, younger in age, Lebanese judging by their accents, sat next to me on chairs that were placed at the last moment. Like everyone else present they were transfixed by the balanced blend of classical music, dance and acting.

Every few minutes and throughout the performance my daughter, who usually pulls a Footloose on us when we go through clothing departments in malls that play loud dance music, started swinging her arms and standing on one leg.

A sense of pride with some embarrassment swept over me as I watched her face light up to the tempo of the music to which the performers of Coppella danced.

If I was writing this piece for The Star Weekly, where I worked as a journalist for eight years, I wouldn’t have included some of the above paragraphs but since this is a personal blog I am sure you will forgive my transgression.

There are many elements that turned Coppella into a beautiful and enjoyable ballet, and as I have mentioned earlier the genuine delivery of dance and theatrics are among those elements.

Before we go into that let me list the creative team behind it:

Artistic Direction & Choregraphy …. Rania Kamhawi

Head Dance Instructors …. Rania Kamhawi & Svetlana Tahboub

Dance Instructors … Ruba Abu Sabha, Tamara Haddad and Natalie Salsa

Costume Design … Hind Dajani

Set Design … Hamada Shweini

Graphic Design … Ala Al Qaisi

Financial Administration … Mohamad Badran and Bana Wreikat

PR & Marketing … Randa Fakhoury and Nour Dirieh

Technical Staff … Jamal Masri, Mahmud Hamad, Mohannad Al-Tal, Mohammad Attiyeh, Fawaz Al Rawashdeh, Faisal Huneiti and Omar Rawashdeh

Volunteer … Zeinab Al Shrouf, Saba Obeidat, Suzan Al Banawi and Mohammed Zemirli.

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Anyone reading the program will come upon a special thanks to Ms. Lina Attel, Mr. Mohammad Abu Sumaqa, Firas Al Masri and the Royal Cutlural Center.

I would have loved to include the names of all 75 performers with the above credits but to be honest I could not for lack of time – sure if I wanted I would have asked for a soft copy of the program but I didn’t. Continue reading please!

The talented 75 performers had roles that ranged between feasting friends, giddy school children, exuberant butterfly catchers, anxious toy makers, lovely dolls, and energetic sickle dancers swaying and dancing during a wheat harvest dance.

The National Center for Culture and Art – King Hussein Foundation Coppélia is a ballet in three acts: Act I, A Ballet in Three Act; Act II, The Deception and Act III, The Wedding. It tells the story of a screwy doll maker, Coppelius, who lives in a village full of nosy life-loving people, who are constantly breaking into his toy shop out of curiosity and interest in his humanoid inventions.

Also living in the village are Swanilda and Franz, who are gradually falling in love with each other to the backdrop of a festive village.

The three main characters are performed by Natalie Salsa (Swanilda), Bijan Qutub (Franz) and Apo Yaghmourian (Coppelius).

The beautifully tailored costumes gave the performance a European production value. The set design was simple and practical – allowing quick shifts in between scenes without disrupting the flow of the story.

One of the most memorable scenes was the dolls ballet scene at Coppelius’ toy shop where the lead female character Swanilda and her friends decide to toy with the old recluse.

After breaking into the toy shop Swanilda and her friends find themselves facing colorful dolls by the dozen. The moment the eccentric toy maker walks into the room they all hide behind the dolls. A few seconds later the lifeless dolls, each representing a culture, come to life to the sound of gentle music and well-choreographed ballet movement.

The entire production seemed familiar and reminded me of a ballet performance that I saw on television 25 years ago. The distant memory of an old toy maker getting angry with young men and women, who snuck into his workshop came to my mind as the performance neared its finale.

Premiering on the 25th of May in 1870 Coppélia was choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to a musical arrangement by of Léo Delibes. I still haven’t found the tele-ballet that I saw a couple of years ago but I will, and when I do I will share it.

What I loved most about the Coppélia choreographed by Miss Kamhawi was how all the performers, young and old, were really into their roles. The friendly smiles and the inviting hand gestures intermingled in the background adding to the movements of the graceful dancers floating in the foreground.

It was a magical night for this writer, his wife and his daughter, and I cannot wait to attend any upcoming performance by the National Center for Culture and Art – King Hussein Foundation for I know I will not be disappointed.

“Thank you for enduring with us especially with such a full stage. We truly apologize for that! Based on tonight’s attendance we are to perform the ballet for another night,” Miss Kamhawi, who was surrounded by her dancers at the end of the performance, announced to a cheering audience.

“I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is of utmost importance to us that you attend our performances. Thank you for supporting us,” Miss Kamhawi concluded.

On a final note the next time you hear of such a performance that is choreographed by the ever-passionate and gentle Rania Kamhawi make sure you buy a ticket.

About the writer/blogger:

Mike V. Derderian is a writer, a disc-jockey at Radio Jordan 96.3 FM and a journalist with 13 years of experience. At the moment he is working as an illustrator and a street artist. For writing and illustration assignments e-mail mikevderderian@yahoo.com

Hala Wain 3ami by Sardine

Celebrating Halloween in Jordan is no longer legal or so they say!

So I guess the Jordanian government now can move on to solving bigger issues!!!

Ah, well! We always need a little more backwardness with all the progress we are making.

Please note that this is coming from a man who hasn’t worn a costume for Halloween since 1990.

Another please note: This design dates back to 2 – 3 years I just re-modified it after hearing the news about the ban yesterday.

Hala Wain 3ami and welcome to Jordan :-})

Sardine

 

 

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Vladimir Palibrk, one of the founders of Risha Project, and asked to create a short comic.

Thank you Vladimir and Risha Project for this wonderful opportunity and for believing in my lines and words :-})

I wrote and drew 24 pages.

This is the link to the full and high resolution comic: http://rishaproject.org/pub22.html

It was a fun project that gave me the chance to re-explore comics as a form and process.

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In 2008 I wrote and drew a six paneled comic called The Dark Side of the Spoon for a magazine called U Men.

I cannot wait to get back to doing this full time and this was a great practice.

Hope you enjoy reading it :-})

Sardine, 2014

For the past few years illustration has offered me another way to write – visually!

I have to confess both ways have their allure and offer one’s mind a challenging merriment once a piece is finished. The process is never 100 percent fun.

Words interconnect to form a sentence, a paragraph and a story the same way a drawn line becomes part of another line, before they formulate a manifestation of an image floating in one’s head.

The following are two posters, Graffiti Power Vol. I & Vol. II. They are a reflection of my affection for graffiti art. I am not a graffiti artist but I have been doing some wall illustrations using spray paint with my friend and mentor Wize One Wesam Shadid.

The themes in both posters are rather simple and the message clear: Graffiti, which is now being hailed as an art form – it always was but not in the eyes of those who own the wall – gives power to those who use it.

It grants those who are holding a spray can wings and allows them to push through thorns.

I hope you like them :-})

Graffiti Power Vol. I by Sardine

The above is Vol. I. and  here is Vol. II.

Graffiti Power Vol. II by Sardine

Good day all …

Thank you for following my blog :-})