Jogging @ Summerhall
Hanane Hajj Ali’s solo show Jogging presents a radical challenge to the stereotypes and prejudices that afflict global perceptions of Arab women
Lebanese performer Hanane Hajj Ali’s solo show about her experiences jogging through the public spaces of Beirut goes above and beyond to take the audience on an endlessly fascinating and complex journey through a middle-aged woman’s psyche. A conceptually adventurous exploration of place, identity, and mythology, Jogging is gloriously unpredictable and compelling.
Hajj Ali is accomplished and relentlessly physical as a performer. She engages her whole body in acting out her psychological processes, and is bold, fearless, and unapologetic as she delves into the aspects of the female experience that are typically repressed in a patriarchal world. Stories from Greek mythology are interwoven with real-life events, as Hajj Ali captures the essence of women driven to strange and inexplicable acts of depravity. She transforms simple props and items of costume into haunting motifs, and immerses the audience in her performance by inciting us to participate in the unsettling but intriguing world she builds on the stage.
The team behind Jogging have had to grapple with the unexpected hurdle of losing their technical director, whose visa application was refused along with many other participants in Summerhall’s Arab Arts Focus programme. This is perhaps a contributing factor to the play’s technical rockiness, but nevertheless, Hanane Hajj Ali and the rest of the team have persisted admirably. The play presents a radical challenge to the stereotypes and prejudices that afflict global perceptions of Arab women, and it is clear that Hajj Ali is a powerful theatre-maker who refuses to be silenced.