On her daily jogging route through Beirut, Lebanon, playwright, actor and cultural activist Hanane Hajj Ali began to take notes. She started jogging as exercise – to avoid stress and fend off osteoporosis. Along the way, she began to see the streets of her city with new eyes. As she considered the city’s history of building and destruction through war, she thought about her roles of woman, wife and mother. She examined her dreams and desires. And she thought about Medea.
Presented by: Learning from Performers program, in partnership with Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and in collaboration with Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Admission: Admission to post-performance discussion is free. All are welcome. Nov. 3 performance of Jogging is free with valid Harvard student ID. All others, please buy tickets through The Harvard Box Office, 617-496-2222.
Related event: LFP Conversation with Hanane Hajj-Ali: November 2, 4 PM
Read A question of beliefs by Truelian Lee '21 on the Harvard Arts Blog
This is the setting for Jogging: Theater in Progress, Hajj Ali’s one-woman show that has won accolades for its intimate and contemporary view of Middle Eastern politics and mythic storytelling. Harvard-Radliffe Dramatic Club is presenting an adaptation of the play – expanded for nine actors – under the direction of Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, as part of the fall Visiting Director Program at Harvard. Hajj Ali, who lives in Beirut, will participate in a Learning from Performers event on Nov. 2 in which she explores the themes of the Jogging script and her own writing life with several members of the cast as readers. She will also participate in a post-performance discussion on Nov. 3.
“The common element in all of my performances in Lebanon has been shock,” said Hajj Ali in The National during the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where Jogging was featured in the lineup for Arab Arts Focus Edinburgh. “After once playing the show in a part of Lebanon that was ruled by a group averse to the ideas that I was presenting, an audience member walked up to me and asked if I was afraid for my life, as people had certainly been killed for less in the country. I answered by asking: ‘Why should I be afraid? Am I not portraying real life? All I’m doing is using my artistic background to portray reality.’”
Hanane Hajj Ali is an artist, activist, researcher, consultant and trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in theater studies from Saint-Joseph University in Lebanon, a certificate in theater and telecommunications from San Diego State University as well as a diploma in acting and a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Lebanese University.
Hajj Ali is a founder and board member of several cultural institutions and artistic organizations in the Arab world such as Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, Action For Hope and Ettijahat – Independent Culture. She has participated in the design, elaboration, implementation and monitoring of several regional and national programs of cultural management, cultural leadership and cultural policies. She is a member of the Arab Cultural Policy Program, and has edited and written books and guides in cultural and artistic research, cultural management and cultural policies.
In addition to her academic and artistic activities as an independent artist, Hajj Ali has collaborated with the Lebanese ministries of education, information and culture. She has collaborated with the Tunisian ministry of culture to enhance the cultural management capacities in both the governmental and independent sectors and to stimulate the common projects between the two sectors in six Tunisian regions.
Hanane Hajj Ali’s residency is sponsored by the Office for the Arts Learning from Performers program, in partnership with Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and in collaboration with Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.