Sunday, February 25, 2007


The Al Ain Theatre Society
Al Multaqa, UAEU 23/24 Feb. 2007

Going some way to comment on the saying, ‘My son is my son till he takes him a wife, but my daughter’s my daughter for the rest of her life’, ‘Voices’, a series of seven monologues by the Al Ain Theatre Society players hugely entertained and made serious comment too. We were taken from fishwife, to exercise freak, through tales of how brides were prepared in a more gracious age, to the angst of mothers letting go, and the fears of turning into them in later life. The human condition was given an unusual treatment from an alien, and a mother mourned her dead child – a panoply of the mother-daughter relationship done in entirely different ways.

The evening began with a mother nagging her daughter, first as a young girl, then as a young woman, and lastly as a spinsterish older woman. The daughter reacting to the same nagging at different stages of her life – tries to leave, but ends up staying to look after her ailing Ma. Caroline White-Goettsche was hilarious in the oldest phase, totally exasperated by Ma.

Continuing the theme, Marion King gave a convincing Joyce Grenfell-like monologue alternating between chastising and praising her precocious daughter’s talent, only to end by admonishing her – going from doting mother to scolding schoolmistress in a few short, very funny minutes.

Ann Sandin (pictured above), who also directed everything, played an alien on Earth, questioning why she was made the way she was, exploring from an unusual angle, finding out some truths.

Zahida Chebchoub waxed lyrical, mixing prose with song to draw a picture from a more elegant age. Singing and dancing, Zahida described a side of life that has passed.

Karen Harle-Cowan absorbed a quietened audience with an altogether darker piece about a woman mourning the past and a happier time. This more serious treatment of the theme served to bring an element of almost tragedy to the lighter rest of the evening.

Deah Gulley gave a hilarious account of a woman obsessed with activity, going through real routines straight from the gym while relating her hectic life, in between the breathing hard and the sweating freely. I felt she was the antithesis set against the others.

Monica Fantauzi(pictured above) bade a daughter farewell, remembering her own life at that age, in a poignant vignette of loss and loneliness, tinged with relief that the girl would inevitably return with the black blouse she had taken from her.

Encompassing all our fears, Joud Jabri-Picket regretted the passing of time as she looked in the mirror, realizing that she was becoming her mother – kneeless and with Bingo wings on her arms.

All told, mothers are given a rough ride at the hands of daughters, but as daughters invariably become mothers, perhaps all is well.

The great evening’s entertainment put on in aid of ‘Women for Women International, and contributing in excess of USD 2000 to it, drew a good audience which included a party of schoolgirls. They surely learned something about their lives from our talented friends and colleagues.
Robert L. Fielding

Monday, February 12, 2007

Saving the planet – saving fuel – our duty

Global climate change is here – lower temperatures than normal in UAE, higher ones in UK, flooding in Indonesia, 8 feet of snow in New York State.

The reports point to us – humanity – as the culprits – either we change or the climate goes on changing until… that is too awful to think about right now, isn’t it? But we should think about it, before it’s too late.

Each one of us can do something, however small it seems – it will go a long way if we all do something.

So, what can we do here in the Emirates – land of cheap fuel and streets full of cars?

Well, we can start switching lights and appliances off when we aren’t using them. Now I hear someone saying, “Hey, the UAE produces cheap electricity, why should I bother?”

The answer is that it may be cheap to you, but it is not cheap to the planet – its cost is high – to Earth – to climate change and pollution generally.

What else can we do – switching off a couple of lights doesn’t seem much. Start by looking around you on your way to work – how many cars do you see with only one person? Answer – most cars.

So, how does that help? Sharing cars to get to work helps – true, sometimes it’s just not feasible – “I want my car in the afternoons.” “I like to drive.” “Why should I put myself out for other people?”

Those are some of the things you’ll hear people say when car sharing is mentioned.

Let’s answer them one by one:-

“I want my car in the afternoons Sure you do, but if you plan, you can have your car on the afternoon it’s your turn to use your car. Plan your week better. Do it for Earth.

“I like to drive.” Sure you do, but there are some things more important than what you want.

“Why should I put myself out for other people?” You’re not doing. Plan your week better. Relax on the way to work two or three times a week – that sounds good, doesn’t it?

And what will you get in return – queues halved overnight – almost – and lower carbon emissions to go some way to reducing the damage being done to our climate and our environment – that’s what!
Robert L. Fielding