In Still in Paradise, Dutch artist Yan Duyvendak and Egyptian performance artist Omar Ghayatt act out a series of dynamic ‘playlets’ chosen by the audience that explore contemporary cultural relations between the Middle East and the West.
Still in Paradise begins with Duyvendak and Ghayatt introducing a series of vignettes that touch on the parts of the world where they each live, Switzerland and Egypt respectively, and their perspectives—as well as differences and misconceptions—on current issues. The audience is invited to take off their shoes and join them on stage, and then help choose which scenes are to be played out in full, making the show different each time it is performed. Conceived during conversations between Duyvendak and Ghayatt following the chaos post-9/11 and the Arab Spring, when the Arab world had become suspect for many Westerners, Still in Paradise is intended to create a space that facilitates open communication that can undo preconceived ideas and cultural notions that feed fear and animosity. However, unlike the fragments of scenes, Still in Paradise’s finale cannot be voted for; it is imposed.