‘Cortas’s passion for politics is at the forefront of her memoir … But this is also a poignant, personal work of nostalgia, of longing for a lost world.’ Financial Times
Narrated by Vanessa Redgrave
With Nadim Sawalha, Mariam Said, Najla Said
and Brighton Festival Youth Choir
‘This is my story, the story of an Arab woman. It is the story of a lost world…’ So opens A World I Loved, the haunting memoir of Wadad Makdisi Cortas, an ordinary woman who lived through and chronicled one of the most tumultuous periods in recent world history.
Now, in a world premiere presentation, Vanessa Redgrave, Nadim Sawalha and two generations of Wadad’s family – Mariam Said (widow of Palestinian academic Edward Said) and their daughter Najla – present the first ever staged performance of this remarkable work.
Vanessa Redgrave explains: ‘The story of Wadad’s life begins in Lebanon in 1917 under the oppressive French mandate and spans over half a century, through the creation of Israel, and expulsion of the Palestinians to the Lebanon Civil War. Throughout her recollections she interweaves her personal experiences with this wider political and historical narrative. She tells how she became a pupil of the Ahliah School for Girls in Beirut, following World War I, then later a teacher and finally Principal there, where she remained until her retirement in 1974. Her care and devotion for her girls and their development was matched by her involvement in women’s emancipation, in music, and in her love of poetry and the Arabic language. From this backdrop emerges an accomplished, liberal and enlightened woman who fervently reveals her perspective of a world needing and seeking peace.’
Played out to a backdrop of images from across Wadad’s turbulent century, A World I Loved is a poignant elegy for a lost epoch and a vanishing dream. Yet it is also an uplifting meditation on family, memory, homeland and community.
Presented in aid of the Barenboim-Said Foundation, which funds the West- EasternDivan Orchestra.