“Les Noces de Zahwa”, a play in Beirut about honor crime

 Honor Crime Beirut Monot theater Les Noces de Zahwa

While violence against women is being portrayed more by the Lebanese media, “Les Noces de Zahwa” will be performed at Beirut’s Monot Theater from Thursday March 13th till Sunday March 16th. We met with creator and director Lara Kanso to know more about the making of this play.

Imagine a world without crime and punishment, religion, or sectarianism. Imagine a world where a woman is free to choose who she falls in love with. Lara Kanso, director and creator of “Les Noces de Zahwa” theater play, envisions a world where Mother Earth survives long after she has died many deaths. Years after she lost her friend to a tragic honor crime, Lara Kanso decides to share her story and hopes she will eventually make the world a more civilized place. This performance aims to approach Zahwa, who is the symbol of all abused women in our society.
Iloubnan.info: In this performance, Zahwa symbolizes love and desire, Earth, and motherhood. Is anyone of these more symbolic than the others?
Lara Kanso: I will begin with Zahwa, the woman, because she is the most important symbol of this performance. This is because if a human is killed, mother earth and everything else dies along with her. When someone kills a woman or a child, mother earth is also affected. In my opinion, Zahwa is the root of the entire story. I’ve had the idea about this performance for about two years now. It wasn’t this story line particularly; I just wanted to focus on violence against earth.
The story of Zahwa was always at the back of my mind I never knew what to say or how to deliver my message.it wasn’t an easy task, I was afraid of the memories that would come rushing back to me. So I kept it to myself and I quieted the voices inside my head. Then one day I was watching a documentary about honor crime in Egypt. It was like a horror movie and I couldn’t sleep for three days. That’s when I decided I would focus on the violence, but I wanted to include Zahwa’s story. She would be a symbol for all women.
Zahwa is a woman, just like the ground we walk on. Zahwa is love and desire and Zahwa is a mother, just like the mothers that cry over the children they have lost to war and drugs.
I wanted to include paintings to illustrate life, contemporary dance, and poetic script to describe Zahwa.

How do you feel about honor crime, especially in Lebanon?

You won’t believe that the worst crime in my opinion is honor crime when it is connected to love. I can’t comprehend the idea that someone could kill a woman because she fell in love. Each woman is free to choose what she does with her mind, body, and heart. I will never be able to understand the idea that I am born the same way as another that kills. It is a problem in Lebanon but it covers the entire Middle East, especially in Jordan.
How do you hope this performance will change the views of honor crime in Lebanon? 
I believe that even though Mother Earth has encountered many unfortunate events, she still has room to grow. I have to do this, even though I’m not sure it will change much. My purpose is to try and if I change the views of even a small percentage of people, I know I have done something to make this world a better place. Something this small often goes a long way when the message is strongly delivered to a few people. It is best to target the youth, teach them right from wrong, and change their views about crime. I don’t know what my impact will be, but I have to start somewhere.Why was this performance launched now? Is it following the deaths of Manal Al Assi and Rola Yaacoub? 
I wanted to do it in October 2013 but because of the economic situation, I decided to postpone until I had sponsors. Unfortunately, we heard about many crimes against women. So it is meant to take place now with all that is occurring. Women’s day is nearing and this is a good topic to be presented now.

What can you tell us about your experience as a play director? What other performances have you directed?

I am actually not a director. This is my first event in theater. I studied literature and later realized the love I had for cinema and art. I created my own event company and I started loving artistic creation, dance, and theater. This is my first project in theater and I’m very excited about it but I know I am not a director.

A link to the article can be found here.