White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour. Where Is The Red Rabbit??

White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour. Where Is The Red Rabbit??


Felaki theatre in Cairo, Performed in Arabic by Khaled Abol Naga in April, 2013.

I saw it Wednesday evening with Peter Froehlich but a different actor takes to the stage every evening, The reason will soon become evident as you watch the play.  The stage is almost bare. There is a chair, a ladder, a table. Two  glasses of water are placed on the table. There is some  simple lighting and  65 places for the audience placed in the front half of the Arts Court Library that has been slightly raked. Thank goodness.  Catriona Leger comes on stage to thank us for coming and to invite  Peter Froehlich to appear. He walks on stage,  she hands  him a sealed envelope and then exits, leaving Peter standing there with the envelope. He opens it..and starts reading………And thus begins the play.

Nassim Soleimanpour wrote this play and sent it around the world to be performed according to his specific instructions.  There is no director, there is no discussion about how it is to be performed. Everything is in the text and in his notes and we all discover it together and this is what creates an intense relationship  between the actor, the author and the audience. One single speaking voice becomes the voice of the author and the actor. They speak to each other or they speak to the  audience, making the audience participate. The theatre becomes a highly  interactive space  where everyone is solicited to get involved, and instinctively we want to respond positively  but should  we really do what the author/actor tells us to do?  By the time we start asking those questions it’s too late. In any case, how is it possible not to react in such a relationship?  Isn’t that the theatrical contract that we all accept implicitly when we enter into a theatre.  However, Soleimanpour transforms the theatre space into something else!  He  shows us how our critical instincts are eliminated, that we can no longer think for ourselves and the  playwright can do with us as he likes. But wait a minute, its only theatre…..or is it?  what we are seeing is the development of an uneasy new relationship between our instinct to suspend our disbelief in a theatrical situation, and the way the author takes over all the functions of the performance to transform himself into a dictator. On one hand, there is a lesson to be learned, on the other hand you can dismiss it all as a purely formal exercise. It depends on your own relationship with theatre and that is what becomes interesting.

The ongoing dialogue of several voices coming from Froelhich’s body is intriguing because you know he is reading the script for the first time so he has no idea where it’s going. He does not appear to be imitating anyone. He is just reading, almost cautiously, trying not to make mistakes and trying to make sense of it all as he reads. Yet, we the audience, pick it up much more quickly because we are free to pay attention to the script and sense all those “other” levels that the play is addressing. And yet,  are we really aware what the author is doing to us?? I’m not sure. We assume we are above all attempts at  manipulation because we know It’s only theatre. This could not be happening. 

Unfetter your mind and pick up the images the author tosses in your direction and you will soon see where the play takes you. It creates a world that only Nassim can transmit. I cannot say anymore; in fact I’ve said too much already!!

We all stood around talking as we came out of the library, discussing the play, wanting to know more about Soleimanpour.

There is a different actor every evening and you will see why it has to be done that way, In fact, you might want to come back several times just to see how different performers take hold of this text. . Women reading might certainly create a different impression and the age of the actor would also have an  impact.   Of course a return visit will not be the same experience  because you know in advance what is about to happen but it will give you the chance to compare performances, to see your favourite actor in a  role where he/she is not prepared, where he or she might even be a bit bewildered,  or you might just catch something you missed. I think the playwright would be grateful for that.

You know, I might just do that……. 

Tuesday May 7 – Saturday May 25 7:30 PM,

Saturday May 11, May 18, May 25 9:30 PM
Venue: Arts Court Library
2 Daly Ave, Ottawa
Schedule of Performances:
Tuesday May 7 – Catriona Leger
Wednesday May 8 – Peter Froehlich
Thursday May 9 – John Doucet
Friday May 10 – Pierre Brault
Saturday May 11 – 7:30 – Eric Coates
9:30 – Kate Hurman
Tuesday May 14 – Sarah McVie
Wednesday May 15 – Scott Florence
Thursday May 16 – Mary Ellis
Friday May 17 –
Saturday May 18 – 7:30 – Margo MacDonald
9:30 – Michael Mancini
Tuesday May 21 – Charles McFarland
Wednesday May 22 – Joël Beddows
Thursday May 23 – Beverley Wolfe
Friday May 24 – Geoff McBride
Saturday May 25 – 7:30 – Kate Smith
9:30 – Richard Gélinas







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