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Ecstasy: A Water Fable

by Denmo Ibrahim
Michael Najjar directs: Hope Theatre   Ages 16+ (profanity, violence)
March 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, at 8pm, March 16th at 2pm
Talk-backs with the playwright following the performances March 6th and 7th

Stories are written in water, spells are cast through washing, and to drink either creates your life or rips it from you. In this dangerous water world, three uniquely lost characters struggle to remember, and pray to forget. A man devotes his life’s work to a tragically simple task. A young woman is haunted by past images not her own. And an elder, submerged in a flood of old pictures, fights to remember a story that slowly seduces her into it. Inspired by 9th century Sufi fable, “When the Waters Were Changed,” Visceral, physical storytelling at its best. Featuring live music by AMERICANISTAN.

Director’s Comments

Michael Malek Najjar

1.     Why did you choose this play?

a.     I chose Ecstasy: A Water Fable because it is about getting back to our source, our heritage, our roots.  In our world we are so overwhelmed with achieving things, with moving up, with reinventing ourselves, that we gradually lose track of who we are, where we come from, and where we belong.  All the characters in the play are disconnected.  They are trying to “re-member” their lives through memories, stories, and dreams.  The play weaves together three disparate periods: the ancient, the modern, and the contemporary now.  Through the journeys of the three protagonists we come to see ourselves, and our world, with greater clarity and understanding.

2.     In your estimation, what makes the play commercial?  To whom will this play most appeal?

a.     The play appeals to those who love the theatre, who want to see a production with live music, a physically-based ensemble, and strong vocal storytelling.  The play mixes complex choreography with sumptuous vocality and evocative design to create a unique evening of theatre.

3.     Are there any special effects or theatrical elements that are compelling?

a.     The play features live music by Eugene-based Middle Eastern musical ensemble Americanistan.  Playwright Denmo Ibrahim will be visiting the University of Oregon to conduct workshops and attend talk-backs on March 6th and 7th.  Also, the play is choreographed with costume design by graduate choreographer Natalya Kolosowsky and with vocal direction by UO Theatre Arts student Ariella Wolfe.

4.     What do you think the public should know about this play?

a.     The play is based on the ancient Sufi tale “When the Waters Were Changed.”  The play merges Sufi stories, live Middle Eastern music, and live theatre in an intimate performance setting.  Employing a “poor theatre” aesthetic, the desire is to elevate the performance to the level of the ecstatic—the place where we lose ourselves in an encounter with the divine.

5.     Are there any personal tie-ins or connections between this play and you or the cast that would man an interesting ‘human interest’ story?

a.     The play was originally commissioned by Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco in 2009.  Playwright Denmo Ibrahim, an award-winning Egyptian American actor, playwright, and poet, is also CEO of San Francisco based company Earthbody, an organic day spa for healing.  Ibrahim is a Lecoq-based actor who studied at Naropa University, and who creates one-woman performances.  Ibrahim believes “My life is my work.  My work is my art.  And these projects seem to fuel each other whether it’s for the stage, the book, the product or the business.” (

 Check out photos from the show here!

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