Montreal’s La Chapelle brings Voyage(s) a festive show where body and territory, dance and words, ideas and audiences confront one another. A work that speaks of identity, memory, utopia and freedom. Sinj Karan from Montreal Rampage spoke to the musician and vocalist Radwan Moumneh about this fascinating project, directed by Hanna Abd El Nour.
Sinj Karan (SK): Can you tell me about your musical vision for the show, what drew you to this type of performance?
Radwan Moumneh (RM): This has been quite an interesting process, and Hanna (the Director) had put forth that the first thing to appear in the writing process were some musical ideas, without having very much beyond a very broad idea of a voyage, in the broader sense of the term. From there, we explored many themes and ideas, and a lot of emotional compositions to try and connect these ideas together, without really understanding exactly where their place will be down the line. And although it was very difficult for me to take hold of these ideas at the beginning, as the work started to evolve, Hanna’s intention became clearer to me and I am quite happy with the evolution of the material now, with these stark differences in ‘time’ that we have created.
SK: What is unique or “different” about this show and what kind of audience are you looking to draw?
RM: I don’t know that “different” is something any of us are actively trying to achieve. It is a unique body of work and is singular in that it is a collaborative creation in the truest sense of the term, where we are creating as we move along, and allowing the organic being that is the work itself tell us where it wants to go. I think that an audience that is interested in a challenging proposition put forth in front of them is the audience that will be drawn to a piece of work like Voyage(s).
SK: In today’s world ideas of memory, identity and a utopian view of the world are both controversial and important. Can you speak to these elements and how the show engages with these potent ideas?
RM: I am not sure. I think that the show engages with the idea of a utopian view of the world. I think the show is much more of an act of existence, and how to make the existence relative. Hannah’s dabbling in memory and distortion of time and age lends itself to that, and allows each interpreter on stage to relate to an identity that is anchored in either the memory to the present, distorting what IS memory and what is present.
SK: As a musician, how do you approach a performance like this? How collaborative is your thought process when you are composing? Do you draw from the performers or is it mostly solitary?
RM: Naturally, the initial work is in solitude. But, Hanna’s guidance and influence has been monumental. I only met the actors when we got in to the theatre for rehearsals! So up until that point, I was working within the confines of a projected idea of what they are and will be (the actors). That led to quite the surreal first attempt as we tried to merge the elements of body and music on stage. I have never worked like so in the past, but have to say, as uncomfortable as it is, I love it.
SK: What have been your inspirations in designing the music for Voyage(s)?
RM: I am in a constant state of inspiration, so I cannot credit one single thing to being an inspiration to this. I don’t usually do this type of thing, so it wasn’t like it was a typical commissioned piece or anything. It’s simply an extension of my compositions and ideas that I am always working on and trying to make evolve.
Voyage(s) runs between January 22 – Fed 3, 2018 at La Chapelle, Scènes Contemporaines (3700 St. Dominique). Tickets HERE.