On Wednesday night I attended Ruba Saqr, Zulaikha Aburisha and Zeina Azouqa’s “3 Women Only” performance at Al Hussein Park. Within the first ten minutes of the show, I was ready to “strangle” the three of them!
Ruba, one of Amman’s most talented, progressive and passionate musician, is someone I admire greatly. She is, with a few others, the voice of a new Amman. Her mother, Zuleikha Aburisha is a well know poet and writer. I don’t know much about Zeina Azouqa other than her being a talented pianist.
Before the performance I was thinking how great it is that the mass audience oriented Amman Summer Festival, organized by the Amman Municipality, is starting to include the new Ammani voices (Aziz Maraka will have a show too in a few days). I thought that this will be a chance to expose a wider audience to Ruba’s voice and songwriting.
Ruba herself is a vocal critic of the cheapness of Arabo-pop and bills herself as an “alternative” musician. This performance, I thought, would be a chance to rescue a few more Ammani souls from the flatness of Arabo-pop desert..
But Ruba and Co. had a different plan..
Sufism, translated sufi poetry, obscure poetry and “improv” where on the menu last night.
Ruba wanted to take us on a sufi trip of poetry and serenity. All of this in a large open air theatre, complete with bored/loud children, adults passing in front of the stage and the uninvited sounds coming from a circus performance stage nearby.
I wished that we could all have been teleported to Darat Al Funun’s Byzantine church stage, as it was utterly impossible for me to enjoy the evening.
Ruba was going on about Naqshabandi and Rumi, when she should have been singing her Amman-inspired songs.
Those who stuck around till the end (and they were many by the way) where all from the usual “culture crowd”. The “other audience” who came in to check out the free show simply left or just passed through the theatre, creating even more distraction.
What a night!
I came out distracted and disappointed about a missed chance to bring more Ammanis together to hear a different voice from their city.
It was a classic example of too much creativity, applied in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Here is a recent documentary about Ruba on Aljazeera, followed by an interview with her from 2007.
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