Aisha Rose Melhem
Promo & Rehearsal Pictures
To Whom it May Concern:
I have been asked to write an evaluation of the play Terminal, recently produced at Texas State University and directed by Aisha Melhem.
This is a challenging piece to stage, partly due to the non-linear nature of the narrative, and partly due to the “performance art” aspect of the play. Throughout the piece, I found myself completely engaged by the innovative use of movement, sound and props that Ms. Melhem used to tell the fractured story. The acting and movement of the play was highly stylized, which requires spot on precision, and I felt the actors in this production were well prepared for the task at hand.
The use of the space was also very inventive, from the multiple playing levels used, to the in-your-face use of the aisles to bring the audience into the world of the play. Virtually every hard surface in the theater was utilized for drumming, beating, thumping, and writhing to great effect. It was kind of a low tech “shock and awe” campaign from the start, and the cumulative effect by the end of the performance was significant.
I also felt the story itself had a tremendous amount of resonance for today’s theatergoer, even though it was written some 40 years ago. The parallels between the perceived imperialism of the United States during the Viet Nam era and the present perception of our role in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East in general were brought out masterfully under Ms. Melhem’s direction.
There was a moment in the production when one of the actors was hanging from the second level of the space by his hands. It didn’t seem safe to me—the fall would have been significant if his hands had slipped. While I applaud the inventiveness of the staging (the iconic image that it created of a man on the cross was most effective).
This play is not done that often, and there is a reason for that—it’s very difficult to do well. All in all, I felt it was a successful production of a very difficult play and I applaud the efforts of all involved.
Department of Theatre and DanceTexas State University