One hundred year ago, with red and blue pencils in hand, British diplomat Mark Sykes and French counterpart François Georges-Picot met over a map and set about drawing borders in very straight lines, dividing the Middle East to suit their respective interests. The effects of the colonial carve up resonate into the present as history finds meaning with a new theatrical work where history is imagined through spoken word poetry and prose, parkour movement and qanunic music.

 Into this world of ever-shifting borders and alliances, the audience will enter into the allegory of the Cartographer and his family. The chaos in which these imposed boundaries was forged speaks to layers of complexity. The stage is set for a battle of ideals against a backdrop of resistance, duplicity and disaster. Here we witness the effects of power and greed, on not only maps and borders, but also on families and freedom.

 The Cartographer’s Curse features Ludwig El Haddad as the Cartographer, Ghassan Hage (an actual Future Generation Professor of global stature) as the Wandering Professor, Sara Saleh as the Poet, Ali Kadhim as the Resistance, Alissar Gazal as the Merchant, and Mohamed Lelo as Master of the Qanun.

 “This ensemble captures the very best of Arab Australian artistry in all its different expression,” said Director Paula Abood. “Each performer inThe Cartographer’s Curse brings a particular prowess and this makes for an exciting performance.” Abood illustrates this very point in the coupling of the melodic quality of the qanun with the edginess of Parkour movement, as “artistically very exhilarating.”

 National Theatre of Parramatta and Third Space Productions will present the world-premiere of The Cartographers Curse, an eclectic imagining of history, from 5 to 8 October at Riverside Theatres.


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 and 7.30pm
Saturday 8 October 4pm – The Cartographers Curse Panel Discussion. An engaging Q&A featuring academics and artists in partnership with The University of Sydneys 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

Venue: Riverside Theatres – Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta

 The Cartographer: Ludwig El Haddad
The Wandering Professor: Ghassan Hage
The Poet: Sara Saleh
The Resistance: Ali Kadhim
The Merchant: Alissar Gazal
Qanun Musician: Mohamed Lelo
Director: Paula Abood
Assistant Director / Co-producer: Claudia Chidiac

Digital Artist: Jerome Pearce
Dramaturgy: Barry Gamba