Hot! REVIEW: Resilience and Legacy of TAHA by Amer Hlehel

CONTENT: Yeo Terence
IMAGES: Singapore Repertory Theatre

Amidst a world filled with conflict and hatred, TAHA emerges as a beacon of hope and empathy, inviting audiences to delve into the life of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali. Directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi and performed by Amer Hlehel, this monologue transcends political divides to offer a profound exploration of our shared humanity.

Against the backdrop of ongoing strife in the Gaza Strip, TAHA captivates with its simplicity and depth. Hlehel skillfully embodies Taha, weaving a narrative that swings between tragedy and humor, personal anecdotes, and political unrest. Through his performance, Hlehel draws audiences into Taha’s journey from his childhood in Saffuriya, Palestine to the tumultuous events of the Nakba in 1948.

The play eloquently traces Taha’s evolution from a humble shopkeeper to a renowned poet on the global stage, capturing the essence of his verses that resonate with themes of resilience, love, and the enduring spirit of his people. Wrestling with the complexities of displacement and identity, Taha’s story unfolds with a poignant yet humorous tone.

At the heart of the production is Amer Hlehel, whose portrayal of Taha mesmerizes audiences with its depth and authenticity. The production’s minimalistic staging puts the spotlight solely on Hlehel’s performance, yet his storytelling prowess paints vivid pictures of Taha’s experiences and emotions. Hlehel’s profound connection to Taha’s poetry is evident as he embodies the poet’s words with a profound understanding of their significance. From moments of childhood joy to the anguish of loss and displacement, Hlehel navigates Taha’s life with authenticity and nuance.

Central to the narrative is Taha’s resilience and optimism despite adversity. Even in the face of violence and conflict, Taha’s spirit remains unbroken, offering a ray of hope amidst darkness. Through moments of warmth and humanity, TAHA reminds us of our shared humanity and the enduring power of resilience.

For Hlehel, theatre serves as a platform for preserving the untold stories of marginalized voices, amplifying their narratives silenced by displacement and conflict. Through his portrayal, Hlehel invites audiences to bear witness to the Palestinian people’s resilience and to recognize the transformative power of storytelling in shaping collective history.

As the play culminates, Hlehel’s portrayal of Taha crescendos with a moving recitation of his poem, “Revenge,” at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. This poignant moment encapsulates Taha’s legacy – a testament to love and resilience born from suffering.

TAHA transcends mere theatrical performance; it is a profound exploration of the human experience and a tribute to Taha Muhammad Ali’s enduring legacy. TAHA serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving marginalized voices and finding empathy in our shared humanity. It is a call to engage with the complexities of the Palestinian experience and to embrace understanding. Through Hlehel’s masterful storytelling and poignant performance, audiences are urged to reflect on themes of resilience, hope, and the unifying power of storytelling.

TAHA by Amer Hlehel runs from now till 14 April 2024 at KC Arts Centre – Home of STC. The gates will open from 6pm for patrons to picnic and performance starts from 7.30pm. Tickets from $45 are available from SISTIC, SISTIC outlets, SISTIC booking hotline (65) 6348 5555 and SRT website.

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