The stage is set for CHAOS. From March 2-5, against the backdrop of the Arabian Gulf, NYUAD Professor of Theater Rubén Polendo will direct Theater Mitu, his New York-based theater company, as it performs CHAOS. Presented by the NYUAD Institute and produced in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), the ground-breaking show — the first professional theater production to be conceived, rehearsed, and produced in Abu Dhabi — is an adaptation of a quartet of short stories by Italian author and Nobel Laureate Luigi Pirandello.
"The themes of Pirandello's work resonated with me, especially as they present an idea of chaos not as criticism but as potential," Polendo said. "This is particularly relevant in a place like the UAE that serves as a cultural crossroads which continues to increase in complexity." Indeed, the emotions and narratives of the performance are not confined to any one culture. Containing elegant forms of Japanese, Balinese, and Arabic traditions, it presents "a hyper-theatrical expression of stories that speak to the human condition through a range of art forms, including dance and music," he explained.
Staged on the shore of the Abu Dhabi Corniche in an open-air venue, the show transforms "themes of travel and migration into an emotional landscape of despairing mothers, possessed lovers, trickster scribes, and magical craftsmen." With original live music, Chaos uncovers the migrant experience, asking: How does hope survive amidst chaos?
The experience of CHAOS has been insightful, stressful, wonderful, and beneficial. I feel truly productive and part of something important to me, the school, the city of Abu Dhabi, and the overall history of theater!
Adding to the Theater Mitu cast and crew are 18 NYUAD students, selected to participate as apprentices under Polendo in roles including directing, music, production assistant, acting, production crew, and documentary assistants. For Kelly Dougherty, NYUAD Class of 2014, a production apprentice, "The experience of CHAOS has been insightful, stressful, wonderful, and beneficial. I feel truly productive and part of something important to me, the school, the city of Abu Dhabi, and the overall history of theater! I also think that there is something magical in the combination of elements (set, acting, costumes) into that truly goosebump-inducing moment that good theater brings, and I am glad just to be backstage of that."
CHAOS is part of the ADACH's World Stage program, a year-long initiative that seeks to provide the best in world music and dance through the performance of a series of contemporary concerts. Speaking about CHAOS, ADACH Director of Culture and Arts Abdulla Al Ameri said, "This comes in line with the ADACH vision to make arts and culture part of people's daily life."