This weekend, a group of young Beirut creatives belonging to the Waraq collective are bringing a real-life version of the iconic board game, Monopoly, to life on the streets of Beirut.

It's just one part of the Beirut Street Festival 2013, a series of urban interventions that for the last two weeks has brought inventive and challenging art performances to the capital's streets in an effort to create a real dialogue about the problems and lack of public space in Lebanon. sat down with Hussein Nakhal, a co-founder of Waraq, to find out more about the game that's all about exploring Beirut's real estate.

(Photo via Facebook) First off, tell us a bit more about Waraq.

Hussein: Waraq is a multi-disciplinary collective focusing on a combination of illustration, animation, art direction and performing arts. We - and by we I mean my fellow animators and illustrators David Habshy and Ashley Choukeir - along with director, animator and illustrator Joan Baz and myself are a quartet that live and work in an old Beiruti yellow house called Beit Waraq.

We've been going at it for two years now, but we opened Beit Waraq just this past year. It's more of a growing project that we hope could eventually become a space for artistic and cultural activities. Beit Waraq has become an open cultural space for the community, hosting monthly workshops, screenings and performances. What we really care about the most is seeing our different artistic backgrounds and the backgrounds of the people who host regular workshops at Beit Waraq interact with today's flourishing contemporary art scene. Why did you get involved with the Beirut Street Festival?

Hussein: We wanted to be part of a street performance that tells the story of Beirut and we hope the festival becomes a yearly gathering project. As a collective cultural group, it is not only our interest but our aim to engage with people in socio-cultural events like these. Why did you choose Monopoly in particular?

Hussein: Monopoly is the perfect match for interacting with Beirut's citizens and history. It was a very popular board game for all of us growing up and and since most people are familiar with the games rules, we thought it would be perfect to apply in an interactive performance that's also highly informative. How does your game work?

Hussein: The rules are simple and similar to the real monopoly but we have some Lebanese twists, of course,and those will be disclosed only when each group of three participants starts their journey in Beirut with a driver and a banker. I can tell you this, though: while preparing this game, we were surprised to find out that our Beirut streets are all registered with street name plates and numbers that no one even knows about. We've included that information in our game to point out details that many Lebanese don't know about. Who knew that Hamra street was once called "Darb El Debb?" What's the point of having people go through this exercise?

Hussein: One of the purposes of using this interactive game was to give back the right to citizens to own their own landmarks and spaces in Beirut. It will be an equal and fair chance for everyone playing this game to own Sanayeh garden, for example, or another 100-year-old building that was sentenced to death because a giant skyscraper project will soon wipe it off the map.

Another purpose of interacting in this game would be to have the groups of three players tour Beirut for 50 minutes and make the best of a memorable trip, exploring many unknown and forgotten aspects of the city while playing a simple game.

We're testing the gaming competitive character in every player as well because it's a money-making game. So the question is: will this show a transformation in the players' character and their behavior? Will you host the game again in the future?

Hussein: The game is still a work in progress for the Waraq collective and the bigger, more developed project will be showcased hopefully during next year's festival in 2014. But for now, we're just testing the shorter version of it. Any future projects we should know about?

Hussein: We're participating in the Sharjah reading festival from November 11 to 17 and we're hosting the Wooden Brooches workshop with Niloufar Afnan on November 23 and 24.

To find out more details about Monopoly Beirut, or to book a seat, click here.

Real Estate: Waraq Collective Brings Monopoly to Beirut

Articles & Media

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Past Events

Beirut Street Festival 2013 Festival (Music, Dance, Theatre, Cultural)
Monopoly Beirut by the Waraq... Performance (Experimental)


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