Solo Performers John Rwothomack and Fidaa Zidan join forces to unravel the discovery of life after political rallies and prison sentences in Lines.

Ugandan and Palestinian history set a hierarchal tree. Threading through the years, we see the crossing of lands with the mystery of success. Past the gates of deception about country, about love, and about life, there is the hope that something will lead us beyond the world of our ancestors. Lines, curves, and squiggles, emphasized in the Projection Design by Tal Yarden, set the mind moving in different directions as the story guides us from one place to another, adding new resolutions to old dramas.

Fidaa impresses the audience as strength beyond size. At the beginning of the show, the Palestinian woman with long, wavy hair shares her joy in announcing that she is pregnant. John, the Ugandan man, creates a safe place for this stunning bit of news. The two actors on stage are joined in friendship with a mission to share the truth of their life’s journey. Like a developing chalkboard, the flow is constant. After explaining how they met in the UK, they share their truths about the cold isolation of prison without the greens of nature or the flowering of a meadow.

The troubling narrative stands in conflict to the tone. While friendship and a desire to bridge worlds is essential, what’s really there is the memory of an underground prison in Jerusalem that is unstoppable. Reaching to the depths of understanding, it’s easy to be moved by the distances that the performers have traveled. Both storytellers and survivors, fearless particularly when relying on one another, they stand particularly strong, even when appearing caged like a monkey. A howling noise, generated by Sound Designer Lee Affen, fills the theater.

What if our humanity is stripped from us, by the experience of incarceration? This question is deeply explored. The center of the drama, however, finds itself not in this premise, but rather, in the impossible struggle to get past the chain links that may surround again. The voices of Fidaa and John remain strong and clear, and there is fine work by Movement Director Robia Milliner, in defining patterns of the body to break the static shock of incarceration. The horrors of prison, emphasized with white and grey illuminations, remind us of the heat of the electrics preventing any possibility of escape. Finding length and width through the arms and legs, the actors practice reliance. The structure of the movement will eventually set them free.

Director Junaid Sarieddeen sends the production beyond an exile story, though, creating moments of quiet reflection that keep the story feeling like a never-ending pit of despair. Though John Rwothomack, Fidaa Zidan, Junaid Sarieddeen, and Alexandra Aron are credited as Writers and Creators of this winding performance, it is really the spirit of collaboration that brings this ensemble-based work to the height of its success.


Lines is a a co-production of the Remote Theater Project and Roots Mbili Theatre, running at LaMaMa until May 12, 2024. La LaMaMa’s Downstairs Theatre is located at 66 E. 4th Street in Manhattan.

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This post was written by Marcina Zaccaria.

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