The National Theatre of Parramatta (NTofP) and Third Space Productions are bringing a unique production to the Riverside Theatre for its World Premiere in October, 2016.

History tells us of the division of the Middle East where British Diplomat Mark Sykes and French counterpart Francois George-Picot took to a map and started drawing blunt lines, carving up the Middle East as suited them. The Cartographer’s Curse takes the audience on a journey back in time of 100 years and explores the potential meaning of those decisions that reverberate in the modern day.

This brand new work allows the past to be imagined through a diverse use of expression, experience and a collaborative voice. The audience are taken through the story of the Cartographer, played by Ludwig El Haddad, and his family. The boundaries and borders of the map drive a story of ideals, resistance, and deceit. It’s a story of power and greed for families, their freedom and of the map itself.

Creator/Writer/Director of The Cartographer’s Curse, Paula Abood says this is a unique collaboration. “As a creative producer, I see myself really grounded in the community and my sense of community is about our history, our present and our future. I thought; what are the stories that haven’t been told? What have we forgotten? We have the memory for forgetfulness so how can we reimagine those stories in a particular time and place? I see us as a collaborative team that works together to develop a narrative that has meaning.”

“All of the artists and performers are highly skilled in their areas of work so as a director, my role is a little more like a curator. Assistant Director, Claudia Chidiac and I are drawing on everyone’s creative practice and craft to enable this show to come together.”

Far from a history lesson, Ms Abood sees this work as a platform for an idea. “History is contested terrain, so my sense of history is always through allegory and this piece is imagining a particular story that may have happened and so allegory for me is the most interesting and creative approach to imagining history.”

Many works bring movement, music and prose together but setting this work apart is the use of the ancient with the new and using the instrument as an actual character throughout. The Qanun is an ancient Arabic instrument brought to life by Master artist, Mohamed Lelo.

Qanun instrument
قانون‎‎ Qanun; – performed by Master of the Qanun, Mohamed Lelo

“In Arabic, the Qanun is the ‘cannon’ and the cannon is the law; it’s the foundation of music and it inspired me to think that’s where characters can challenge the Qanun, challenge the law, to challenge tradition so that’s been a really important device for us.” Ms Abood said.

Conversely is the use of a modern day movement device in parkour and Abood believes the symmetry of the two worlds is an important essence to the work. “Bring parkour is a more innovative, a more western movement so when on the floor, how can that sound (Qanun) drive an urban movement like parkour and how can parkour drive how the Qanun responds? That’s an exciting part of the show for me, the bringing together of two creative forms that haven’t traditionally gone together before.”

The poetry and prose of the piece doesn’t go unnoticed. “The spoken word is interactive as well.” Says Abood. “I guess our creative aspiration is a creative alchemy of bringing all the different elements together and they’re sometimes against each other so we create moods and spaces that feel comfortable and times and feel uncomfortable and other times.”

Sara Saleh (high-res)
Sara Saleh – Poet

Paula Abood hopes the audience leaves with a water cooler moment. “I think people will leave this performance with a sense of wonderment of the world we live in today. My desire would be people walk away in a reflective moment and this has touched them and have felt something emotinally.”

Riverside Theatre Parramatta

Wednesday 5 October 7:30pm – Preview
Thursday 6 October 7.30pm – Opening night
Friday 7 October 7.30pm – Includes post show Q&A (cast post show)
Saturday 8 October 2pm and 7.30pm
Saturday 8 October 4pm – The Cartographer’s Curse Panel Discussion. An engaging Q&A featuring academics and artists in partnership with The University of Sydney’s Department of Arabic Language and Cultures. Free, bookings essential.

Tickets: Adult $37, Concession $32, 30 & Under $27. From the Box Office (02) 8839 3399 or

The Cartographer's Curse (composite)
Ludwig El Haddad (The Cartographer), Sara Saleh (The Poet), Ali Kadhim (The Resistance)


The Cartographer’s Curse

By Paula Abood

!Book Tickets


5 October – 8 October 2016

Wednesday 5 October 7:30pm – PREVIEW
Thursday 6 October 7:30pm  – OPENING NIGHT
Friday 7 October 7:30pm – INCLUDES POST-SHOW Q&A
Saturday 8 October 2pm & 7:30pm