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O Fim duma Viagem

A Change is Gonna Come

MOROCCO | Friday, 20 June 2014 | Views [306]

On Tuesday, I saw a car enter the Mdina the same way that I had just left it. So although the two-way road was nice, it was far from necessary, as any car that isn't overly concerned about pedestrians can just push its way through the crowd. (Said car had already surprised me by turning directly onto where I was standing before I realized that the two of us were playing chicken, and there was no way I was going to win.)

The literature class again featured confusion about what to read. On Monday he'd handed us a single-page essay by the same author as the poem. We also had assignments one (and two) from Week 2 in the syllabus. I read the novel excerpt that was the first assignment in week two and the essay. I was overprepared, as the class only talked about the essay.

I wish the politics class had several assignments that were only one page long. It would actually make me so happy if Politics and Literature switched the number of pages reeding, since the ltierature class hasn't been over 20 pages, and is probably averaging about 10. I could read 30-50 pages of French literature much easier than I can read 30-50 pages of French history/politics.

After class was over, Nisrine arranged for us to meet at Mohammed V theater at 7:30 for a music and dance concert. There were only two small flaws in that. First, the concert didn't start until 8:30, and even the art exposition before that didn't start until 8:00, so there was no reason for us to meet at 7:30. Second, we didn't quite know where the theater was. Arguably, the two problems canceled each other out.

Nisrine had started to give us directions, then changed her mind and decided it would be a better learning experience if we asked someone for help. Megan and I went home and Google-mapped it. She wrote down the directions in a notebook, and I kept it on my phone, hoping it didn't try to refresh with no connection. It didn't.

We met up at Sidi Fata and got to the point where we were staring at the building Google thought was Mohammed V theater. Reality didn't seem to agree. While the girls were trying to figure out where it could be instead, Nathan went over and asked for directions. The directions were to go down the street, then take a left, so they were pretty easy to follow. Most importantly, they worked.


We arrived right at 7:30. Nisrine was nowhere to be seen. Neither were any of the other instructors. Fortunately, artwork doesn't have time constraints the way theater does, so we could walk around looking at the photographs.


The pictures were all of people trying to pass some border. I'm not quite sure which one. There were physical fences, so the African refugees couldn't be escaping to a European country. , and the background buildings in one looked a lot like Moroccan buildings. There might have been multiple borders, though, because one of the pictures showed someone wearing a jersey of a Spanish sports team while clearly being apart from the city. It reminded me of a movie I watched last year, La Pirogue, where one of the characters promised his son a jersey from Barcelona. They then tried to cross the Spain in a boat, with over half of the occupants dying on the journey. The others who made it were given medical care and turned back, but not before the jersey was bought.


Two other pictures made an especially deep impression. In one, there was a dead girl and another person who clearly didn't want to leave her being pulled away. In the other, several people were sitting on top of a pole. Their feet were bloody tatters.


After finishing that, I watched someone who was arranging what looked like plain Moroccan tea cups in a shape on the ground. As he continued to add cups, the structure revealed itself to be writing.

Hope is Love

When he was finishing up, we asked Mahjid what it said.


I think it is 'hope.' Which means 'love.'”


Hope and love are the same word in Arabic?”


No. It means love?”
“Hope means love?”


It's pronounced hope, but it means love.”




It's a nice pair.


Mahjid, Fatima, and our poli sci professor showed up while I was looking at pictures. Nisrine didn't show up until the artist was putting candles in the carefully-arranged cups. We went inside while he was fighting against a breeze to light the candles.


The theater was nice. Big, and the chairs were extremely comfortable. Which was good, because we were going to be there for a while.


We were coming for a concert by the Campbell brothers at 8:30 followed by an African dance at 9:30. At 8:35, nothing had started. Finally, a woman got up and talked in French for a bit about the status of refugees and thanking us for coming here in support of them. It appeared I was at a charity concert. Then someone else gave a short speech, and the US Ambassador gave a longer speech (in English. He hoped that next year he would be giving this speech in French) where he talked about how immigrants made the United States what it was today. Then, and only then, could the concert begin.


The Campbell Brothers were a gospel/blues group. Then talked exclusively in English, They played an instrumental version of “Not Gonna Let Anyone Turn me Around,” a vocalized “I got a Feeling Everything is Gonna Be All Right” (another woman came on stage to sing. Just sing that line, maybe occasionally switching pronouns, and you've got the lyrics down.) instrumental “A Change is Gonna come,” vocalized “Morning Train” and “Don't Let the Devil Ride” (see above parenthetical, minus the part about pronouns) and “Jump for Joy.”


Singer and band. I love you, Philip! 


I'm sure it was a great concert if you like gospel and blues. I don't, but it was OK, because my lack of enthusiasm was made up for by another woman sitting two rows down and a bit to the left. She was probably around 40, but she acted like she was a teenager at a rock concert. I would not have been surprised if she'd shouted “I love you Philip!” (I think that was the name of one of them) at the end of their set. She didn't merely jump for joy, she leaped and swung her hair around. The people sitting next to her edged away as much as they could.


When that was over (around 10:00) the second part of the show began.


First, the curtains dropped and in front of them a man came out playing a lute. It sounded pretty, but it wasn't until the next day that I got the full context. He was playing a musical interpretation of philosophy questioning whether Islam was psiritual or political. I got none of that, but it was nice to listen to.


Then the curtains went back and the room was transformed with lights and curtains into a more mysterious setting. And then the dancing began.


My favorite dance took place in the near-dark. The drums made a “dum dum da da da dum dum da da da” sound while someone came out holding a flashlight. He was wearing a skirt, and he'd jump in the air and spin around on the ground. Later, he was joined by other dancers and they would jump over each other and interact. All the while I could only see their forms and what illumination the flashlights caused.


When the dance ended, they all fell to the ground, and the lights came up a bit. Then another person, wearing a robe and a tall green hat, walked in the center of where their bodies were and started turning around in circles. There was a chanting, and then a call and response. And he kept turning, turning, turning. Then the flashlighted dancers came up and started jumping around in a circle around him. And the hatted dancer didn't stop for an instant, just kept turning in slowly circles. Then everyone else started doing the same. Then he walked offstage, and the others followed him, still turning.


The dance got a lot less creepy after that. There were several songs that were more focused on the singers than the movements. One looked to have the setting of a court, and the jumping skirted warriors came back, this time in different clothing. Another song featured people who seemed much more youthful and lively. Near the end a group of girls came out and were singing and dancing around and jumping and proving their flexibility.


The thing that startled me the most was how many people left. I'd noticed it a bit in the middle, that people would stand up and walk out. But it wasn't until the end, when we were clapping and the audience lights came on, that I noticed how many empty seats there were in the theater. There hadn't been any I could see when we'd started.


It was especially disappointing, because I'd thought the dancers were better than the Campbell Brothers. Then again, that could just be my music taste. (I'm not sure if the woman who thought she was at a rock concert would agree or not. She was pretty into the dancing too, swaying her arms and not caring that no one else was.


Since we didn't leave until the end, we weren't out of the building until 11:30 at night. Nisrine called a bus, and it dropped us off nearby, with someone walking us to our door. On the bus ride back, Nisrine asked who was ready for Senegal. “After seeing that show, I am!”


I'm pretty sure I don't share her sentiments.



Tags: dance, music, theater

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