Stories tell us something essential about the world and about others. It is only in the context of a story that facts obtain meaning. But if we listen carefully, they also tell us something about the storytellers, the parties involved. Through what stories have we in the West formed an image of Persian culture?
Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the first point of contact was probably the Disney adaptations of the tales of the ‘Arabian Nights': 'Aladdin's Lamp', 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves'. The Middle East presented as a huge sensual and exotic garden with turbans and flying carpets. The taking of hostages at the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980, the Iraq-Iran War and the fatwah issued against Salman Rushdie were the first indicators of the political reality, and they gave a very different picture of Iran. It was a long time before we realised that the world of fairy tales and the grim news reports were speaking about the same country.
Anyone interested in stories and songs that originate in other cultures must inevitably be concerned with the question of cultural appropriation. People intuitively feel a certain hesitancy when it comes to telling non-Western stories. Paradoxically, this confirms the ‘otherness’ of the Middle East and cooperation is ruled out in advance. For Zwerm that is an unacceptable excuse. Zwerm and WALPURGIS believe that it is possible to work together meaningfully, and on the basis of the shared history of East and West. The associated tension and difficult questions of society are a part of this, they are a part of the storytelling. Storytelling is the ideal vehicle for exploring these questions. Drawing on mythology, songs, personal experiences, humour and doubt, a new story is sought, one that goes beyond fairy tells and news flashes.
Note: this performance is in English.
Thursday 17 March, 20:00 → 22:00
Rue Ravenstein 23 1000 BRUSSELS