Sachli Gholamalizad moved from Iran to Belgium when she was five. For the two years that she and her brothers waited for their father to make the journey, her mother was her protector in this strange new country with its formidable barriers of language and discrimination. This intercultural disconnect is the stimulus for Gholamalizad to address the much wider one that exists between her and her mother - two very different women with two very different sets of cultural values.
A bold and beautiful piece of art.
Gholamalizad’s confusion is clear – she wants to understand her mother, to live inside her world, but seems unwilling to accept or forgive her for the actions she took in the past. For not understanding her when she wanted a boyfriend; for when she wanted to be “just like everyone else”. For not being there for her in a world where cybersex and traditional Iranian love songs apparently coexist. These barriers and contradictions also exist between audience and performer: Gholamalizad sits facing away from us, made visible using the webcam in her laptop. We interact with her via lens and screen, the effect of which is beguiling. She makes eye contact with every one of us, we see her anger and her pain but she does not see ours. She bares her soul yet remains an outsider, always out of reach no matter how close she seems.
Accompanying this are confessional pieces of text: the thoughts that are too hard for her to say out loud, typed in real time, her emotions made painfully readable. Video interviews with her mother give the piece a wonderful if tragic three-dimensionality, as we witness the first time that mother and daughter opened up to each other in this way.
Gholamalizad gives a superb performance, one that’s made all the more impressive by the fact that she is essentially acting on screen rather than onstage. Her eyes flicker, her head tilts subtly to the left: she tells us so much and yet manages to give nothing away.
It’s not a perfect piece – it’s 20 minutes too long and some of the focus is slightly lost as a result. In spite of this, however, A Reason to Talk is equally moving, provoking and daring. A bold and beautiful piece of art.