Ticket to Atlantis – Performance to Be Shown in September in Beirut

Jul 2016

After getting a production grant from the second edition of the Laboratory of Arts programme, performance arts category, Syrian actor Mayar Aleksan leads the team for the performance, Ticket to Atlantis, through all levels of preparation, from research to field visits and live interviews. Today, he is constructing the artistic elements of the performance, expected to be shown in Beirut, Lebanon next September.

Performers and directors, Mayar Aleksan and Lina Issa, share with us these words about their joint project, Ticket to Atlantis.


Ticket to Atlantis is a performance with an audio-visual installation. The performance explores the relationship between the human body and the sea in an emotional and historical context. The performance poses two central questions: What if the sea had a memory and a voice? What would it tell about all those bodies that crossed it, swam or drowned in it, or fished from it?

What would happen when we link the refugees’ search for a safe place to live, with the myth of Atlantis, the drowned civilisation?

The project is the result of the joint work by Mayar Aleksan and Lina Issa. They will share their journey of searching for light with the audience.


Lina and the Sea:

Lina spent her childhood on the shores of the city of Tyre. She floated, swallowed water, wrestled with broken waves, and searched for things the sea would wash to the shore. She thought that her uncle Adnan was able to stand and keep his head above water at any depth in the sea, when she swam with him under one condition—to never look back. After each meeting with the sea, the sense of security and the wish to stay in the sea forever are renewed.


Mayar and the sea:

In Damascus, the sea is a place of leisure. Many Syrians who live away from the sea don’t know anything about the sea at all, or don’t know how to swim in it. It seems illogical that the first meeting they have with the sea is this blunt. There was no time for any introductions. Instead, there was complete surrender, just like a poor bride’s first night.

As he moved between Damascus and Beirut, Mayar liked observing this relationship, from the beginning to the news and social media platforms.

A journey of suffocation starts from narrow streets, and ends in the depth of sea near the shores of Italy and Greece.

Who are these people?

Are they stupid?

Or are they tragic heroes?


In this project, going back to the sea is an attempt at returning to Mother Nature in search of Utopia.

In other words, it’s a search for lightness—lightness as a form of innocence acquired as soon as we shake off the identity we’re born into, with all its weight and symbolism.

Searching for lightness and the sea brings about myths, due to their simplicity and being unrealistic. Many of the modern escapes remind us of religious myths, such as people in boats, or going to a better place, or floating bodies awaiting their fate.


The project is now in the visual/movement formation phase, in an attempt to condense and translate many ideas into images and words.

One of the obvious choices for us was working in an alternative theatre. We started working in one of the places that are open to the sea in Ain Al Mreisseh in Beirut (Ajram swimming pool).

Two main characters were created:

-      The Mediterranean with its open arms.

-      The city of Beirut, that turned its back to the sea, with its high buildings. Walking around Beirut, you rarely feel you’re in a coastal city.

Between these two characters, we found a space to pose some of these questions, by the interaction between the performers’ bodies and the place, in the form of movement scenes.  The text is a documentary poem away from long dialogues.

The text is divided into a group of stories that we have collected from refugees who made it to Europe by sea, and testimonies of fishermen, as well as poetic texts we have written in a simulation of the sea’s logic, with texts from different literary disciplines discussing humans’ relationship with the sea, excerpts from news and statistics, and scientific facts about the sea.


Ticket to Atlantis

2 – 14 September 2016 (7 shows)

Ain Al Mreisseh/ Ajram Swimming Pool

Mayar Aleksan – Performer and director

Lina Issa – Performer and director

Santiago Cordoba – Music

Karam Abu Ayyash – Scenography

Alaa’ Minawi – Lighting

The project is supported by Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, Prince Klaus Foundation, and Ettijahat-Independent Culture

الحقوق محفوظة اتجاهات- ثقافة مستقلة 2019
تم دعم تأسيس اتجاهات. ثقافة مستقلة بمنحة من برنامج عبارة - مؤسسة المورد الثقافي