Culture, Expat Style

One great aspect of expat living in the Middle East is the number of opportunities to indulge in our  personal interests.

Unlike being in Paris, London, New York or Los Angeles where there are a lot of professional operas, ballet companies, museums and theaters, here the competition is less.   As we pursue our high-end hobbies, we find ourselves given opportunities to exhibit and perform nationally.

The expats’ summer exodus will begin this month so the various groups are packing in their culture before the year’s end.

The America Women’s Association’s Visions exhibit runs from June 13-18 at the Bahrain Arts Centre.  As is the local tradition, the ladies only morning is June 14th.  Since we are traveling to Paris and London to meet some friends, I will miss the exhibit.  Artist and teacher to many of the painters, Seana Mallen, sent me some pre-opening photos.  I hope the Louvre will make up for it.

Visions formally opened last night under the Patronage of the Ministry of Culture.  Although I got an invitation, I didn’t go as I was attending the Philip King’s 1943 farce See How They Run at the British Club.

This traditional British play made me giggle with its mistaken identities, lot’s of running in and out of doors, an old lady stuffed in a closet, a naked vicar and the 1940s villain, a Nazi POW.  The cast members are traditional expat actors – primarily British who have lived abroad for many years and are lawyers, teachers, engineers, university professors, business owners or students by day.  They ensured the show was performed despite a public scuffle within the club’s board of directors, six date changes and an entire turnover of the cast.

The program said when the original West End production opened in January 1945, the audience did not leave despite three “doodle-bugs”, V-1 Flying Bombers, exploding nearby.

The Brits are still unflappable.  Neither the actors nor the audience were fazed when a chair leg collapsed and with a loud BANG, a lady dropped on the ground.  Leaving the auditorium, assailed by tear gas, I started coughing while the men continued sitting around the pool drinking their pints.

See How They Run runs two more nights – Thursday the 14th and Friday the 15th and includes dinner.  Tickets are available at the British Club.

The boy’s piano teacher will be singing in The Manama Singers Happy Together concert.  The Gilgamesh Ballroom will echo with Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Otis Redding and Michael Jackson.

Their piano teacher will also be playing in MASK’s Circle of Life, “inspired” by the Lion King.  It’s good to see MASK survived despite last year’s front page news that the conductor and the director scuttled off the island together leaving their families behind.

Such is the circle of expat life.


In the Beginning – Creation in Paradise

It is quite an ambitious project to set the Creation story from Genesis to music.  But Joseph Haydn felt he was up to the task and his masterpiece was rolled out in Vienna in 1798.

For the first time, on March 23rd, The Creation will be sung in Bahrain by the Manama Singers.

Musical Director Michael Natzke must have decided it was only fitting that the choir residing in Paradise should sing about the parting of the waters and the creation of all the animals.  Resident artist Seanna Mallen was commissioned to paint her vision of Creation for the official poster.

The Creation covers the story from the beginning – when God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) – until Adam and Eve sing their love duet.  Although neither Genesis chapters 1 nor 2 specifically mentions any serenades, I think Haydn basically brings us up through the end of Genesis where they were naked but probably not singing.

The concert ends with the Angel Uriel vocalizing his advice for the pair to be happy with what they have and not wishing for anything more.  And again, although I really respect Angel Uriel, the only angel I could find was an unnamed cherubim.

I think Haydn wanting his oratoria to be popular committed two sins; the sin of pride – telling the story his way – and the sin of omission – telling the story but not the whole story- when he left out the part about the snake.

Still it promises to be a fabulous concert.

You can buy tickets for Friday’s concert at Al Osra, the Bookcase or at the Diplomat Radisson Hotel.


Tales by Chapter

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