5 things to know about Rabih Mroue Jan 16, 2012

by Jessica

This week brings Rabih Mroué's first ever appearance on the West Coast as part of his US debut tour. To help you get acquainted with this artist, read these 5 things to know before heading to the theater this weekend:

Rabih is a multifaceted artist who has gained acclaim in the worlds of performance, visual art, and film. In the past year he opened his first solo exhibition in the UK (I, the undersigned), an exhibit that dealt with the current politics of the Middle East. 2011 also saw the US release of Je Veux Voir, a film that starred Rabih and legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve. The film is a tour of Beirut after the Civil War, with Rabih guiding Catherine through the destruction and the city’s attempts to rebuild.

One of Rabih’s trademarks in performance is playing the role of the unreliable narrator. In Looking for a missing employee he toes the line of truth and fiction in a way that forces the audience to continually question what is really happening.

Many of Rabih’s past works have explored facets of current life in the Middle East. When we initially programmed him in the season he had proposed a different work, Hussein, that took a look at the life of the most famous Marxist in Lebanon (also known as his grandfather). Give the happenings around the Arab Spring, Rabih instead opted to develop a new work: The Pixelated Revolution. Read more about this work, which addresses the Syrian Revolution’s use of cellphones.

In 2010 Rabih won the Spalding Gray Award. Presented by a consortium of theaters that includes On the Boards, Performance Space 122, the Walker Art Museum, and the Warhol Museum, the annual award recognizes a singular artist who is creating work in the same visionary spirit as Spalding Gray. Rabih is in the company of past recipients such as Radiohole and Young Jean Lee. Watch his acceptance video:

Rabih is a leading artist in the contemporary art field, but this is his first trip to the US. Before he got here, however, the New York Times released a feature on him, cementing his status as an important art star to watch. Then in 2011 CNN also released a story on him. Read the CNN and New York Times articles to get insight into Rabih and his work.