Looking for a Missing Employee

‘‘Since 1995, I’ve been collecting pictures of missing people that appear the newspaper…where could all these people disappear?’
Looking for a Missing Employee was the first performance I designed in 2003, it follows the true story of a man who disappears from his low-level post at the Ministry of Finance in Beirut, never to be seen again. The story is told through newspaper clippings collected over several years, in a quest for the truth. At that time, ‘Fake news’ was not an acknowledge known term. The actor plays the role of a neurotic researcher desperately investigating articles, rumours, figures, reports, governmental decrees to get to the bottom of this disappearance; The more documents we see, the more cracks start to appear in the story, casting an increasing shadow of doubt as we go along.

Fundamental to the design concept is the absence of an actor on stage, both actors sit between the audience, and the storyteller’s image is projected in real size above a table on stage; The story is told with the image of the actor, a top view of his archive, and the sketch notes of his colleague trying to follow the story in an infographic sketch. On our first show, we half expected the audience to look at the real actor instead of his image, however to our surprise, audiences, around the world always choose to follow the story through the image. What unfolds is a commentary on the the relationship of truth and fiction, the presence and the absence as it is said “between the truth and a lie, there is but a hair.”

Set design and videography
Samar Maakaroun
Beirut / 2003 — Premiere

Text and direction: Rabih Mroué
Cast: Rabih Mroué, Hatem Imam
Video Interview: Mohamed Soueid, Pamela Ghoneimeh
Photos Houssam Mchaiemch
Produced by:
Christine Tohme, Ashkal Alwan


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