Originally scheduled to open in October 2023, Perform Sharjah returns in January 2024 with its new season of contemporary performances following a necessary postponement in response to the brutal war on Gaza, which required a moment of silence. The relaunched programme foregrounds works that deal with the Palestinian struggle and seeks to create spaces of encounter between artists and local publics, needed now more than ever.

The second season of Perform Sharjah opens at the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy with the results of a masterclass for young actors from the UAE and the wider Gulf region. Led by Jalila Baccar, an icon of Tunisian and Arab modern theatre, the masterclass is organised around readings from In Search of Aïda, Baccar’s first work as a playwright. In the monodrama, which debuted in Beirut in 1998, Baccar delves into the Palestinian tragedy through her search for her friend Aïda. Still witnessing the relentless exacerbation of this tragedy, 25 years after the first performance and 75 years since the occupation of Palestine, Baccar shares her text with young actors to present a contemporary take on a foundational text in the history of Arab theatre. Directly following Baccar’s masterclass, the dance piece titled 4, centred around four bodies that move with strength and deliberation, will be performed by the Beijing-based TAO Dance Theatre.

Metamorphoses #2 directed by Essia Jaïbi, and written and performed in collaboration with her mother, Jalila Baccar will be performed at Dar Al Nadwa in Calligraphy Square. The tranquil courtyard of Bait Obaid Al Shamsi will play host to choreographer Radouan Mriziga’s Libya, an artistic adventure that explores the Amazigh people’s systems of knowledge and unknown parts of their history. Artist Rayyane Tabet will adapt The Flying Saucer’s unique architecture for his performance The Return, which traces the history of a marble sculpture unearthed in Lebanon in 1967. To be staged at the Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts, Singing Youth, by theatre professional Judit Böröcz, visual artist Bence György Pálinkás and composer Máté Szigeti, traces the use of art and sports for political propaganda through different eras.

Perform Sharjah moves to Bait Al Serkal with Perhaps Here, a three-day event of simultaneous performances by numerous theatre makers, installation artists, video artists, poets and writers. In this heritage house which is charged with many stories from the past, the performances will highlight concepts, stories and aesthetics that reflect the contemporary imagination through different artistic disciplines.

Perform Sharjah concludes at Calligraphy Square with Mohit Takalkar’s play Hunkaro which interweaves three contemporary tales of human hardship, tied together by a common thread: the vital importance of hope.