interviewed by Predrag Pajdic, Beirut, December 2006

Let's talk about your latest work 'I Had a Dream Mom'. Was it based on a real dream?

Yes it was a dream about me visiting a place where all its inhabitants were brutally murdered, and would only return at night to haunt the city where they had once lived. Meanwhile, during the day, tourists would go to the place with one thought on their mind: that they should leave it before it gets dark.

Why did you decide to tell it to your mom and to make the film about it?

At first the plan was to tell the dream to many different people, not only my mum but also including a psychoanalyst, philosopher, politician and a fortune-teller. The most interesting response was that one from a philosopher Jalal Toufic, who later wrote about it, and of course my mother. For that reason I decided to make the work with her. Toufic's booklet is given to people who come and watch the film.

(Suddenly an alarm goes on)

Where was I?

In the film, you can only see your mum laying in a bed, why?

She had a tumour in her spine. From 1991 she is paralysed. I am her only daughter and have to take care of her.

You are a performer. Your background is in theatre. You also collaborated with your husband Rabih Mroué. And now you've made a film. How do you decide what form a project takes? What is your way, or process, of developing an idea from the beginning to a final product?

I used to be fascinated with a physical theatre. I am drawn to the human body and in the role that it can play today. Theatre made me think about my own body and its image, something I am still exploring. But I am also interested in language, text and the way in which it could be explored in relation to one's body. Later on I moved away from acting towards performance, because through it I could explore my own concerns directly, not as a fiction. But it wasn't a conscious decision, it happen gradually. Now I've made a film but I'm really a performer.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a new performance, for which I've already written the text and I'm now figuring out how to do it on a stage. It is about death and in particular about my wish to be cremated once I died. My wish is not to be buried. But here in Lebanon such a thing is forbidden. All religions are opposed to it as God said we came from the earth and should go back to it. So this work is about trying to find a way, to figure out how to fulfil my wish and get cremated here in Lebanon.

Once I heard a story explaining that if one of your organs is taken out after surgery, the hospital has to burn it. I started to think, “perhaps this is the way, to get rid of some parts of my body, one by one. Maybe I should have as many operations as possible and get all those parts out that I don't need”. Of course it wouldn't be easy as it sounds. I need my heart, and my head to think with.

Here, it's not only religion that is against me, but also this archaic political and legal system. The structure of this country is against me. So there is plenty of material to talk about…