The Music Box, a one-woman show created and performed by Maya Zbib, is about homes, usually performed in people’s homes. Based on a series of collected and imagined stories narrating incidents, habits, practices, truths and possible truths about women, and what ties them to their homes, the performance travels from the basement to the attic, throughout the various facets of the house and its dual nature of shelter/prison. The Music Box, first performed in 2008 in Beirut is enjoying a long and constantly-evolving life. In September 2012, The Music Box becomes an integral part of Zbib's month-long residency at Williams College in the United States.
"It is an occasion to meet with people in a new context. My partner Omar and I are giving workshops and visiting classes to share our methodology with students and young artists. Showing The Music Box to a community of Arab women living in Massachusetts is exciting for me, as many members of my family have emigrated to the U.S. and I am interested in finding out how this work will be perceived there."
The Music Box mixes genres and works on the edges of performance art and theatre. Zbib explains, "There are elements of installation, of site generic performance and some interactivity. The work is political, poetic and autobiographical. So it's all and none of the above at once!"
Maya Zbib performing in The Music Box
The unique work has changed over its life. Zbib explains, "It has become more concrete in what it is addressing in terms of the position and reality of women at home, so ultimately less 'nice' or 'digestible' for the audience than the 2008 version."
Zbib continues to create work and challenge herself within her role at Zoukak Theatre in Beirut. She has been performing in villages throughout Lebanon and work has begun on an Ibsen text to be performed in January. She speaks most excitedly, however, of a recent show called Silk Thread, the first large production she has directed.
"For Silk Thread I focused more on the overall vision and on directing others rather than on my own acting. It was a big challenge for me and it ended up being a success for the company! Due to public demand, its run had to be extended when we showed it last May and it was selected for a June theatre festival in Germany. It will be shown again this October as part of an international festival here in Beirut and next year in Marseille. The work received many good reviews. I think my experience with my mentor, Peter Sellars, was an important factor in the success of this show. While I had only spoken with him a little about the play, my overall experience in the mentoring year was very empowering."
Zbib uses her travels as an opportunity to rejuvenate her artistic spirit. Most recently in Brussels, she met with Wim Vendekeybus, a multi-faceted artist and director of the dance company Ultima Vez. "He invited Omar and I to rehearsals on his last piece, Oedipus. Even though it was in Flemish, I was very inspired by the energy of the work and Wim's commitment to making dance with powerful content and where the individuality of each dancer is present and essential," says Zbib.