Review: “Numbers Increase As We Count … ” honours unsung heroines of war

Thought Experiment Productions presents new multidisciplinary piece at the MAI

(Photo Credit: Cedric Laurenty)

From the trailblazing Montreal-based theatre company that produced Fringe hit 4’33” in Baghdad and The Wah Wah Pedal comes a potent new political piece – one of “protest, not performance” – that leaves a lasting imprint on the mind and heart.

“Numbers Increase As We Count . . .” is Thought Experiment Productions‘ latest original artistic endeavour – one that integrates extensive research from social sciences, interviews, archival footage, statistics, and mass media representation with unique stage craftship. Incorporating audiovisual documentation of personal testimonies and of the creation process of the project itself, the multidisciplinary work sheds light on the ongoing fate of women suffering the consequences of war in post American-occupied Iraq.

Turkish creator/director Ülfet Sevdi (who is also co-founder of Thought Experiment Productions alongside Nicolas Royer-Artuso) is here joined by performers Itır Arditi and Burcu Emeç in her live “counting” – an ongoing, endless tallying of female victims of widespread displacement, abduction, rape, and sex trafficking in the Middle East. Mothers, daughters, and wives comprise the targets of oppression. Projected archival photos and videos give a glimpse of their suffering – a distant, unthinkable existence in our own privileged comfort. Captioning the harrowing images is cold data on the casualties of war and occupation, but a focus on testimony brings attention to the humans behind the numerals.

(Photo Credit: Cedric Laurenty)

Influenced by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, the participative event has Sevdi as a facilitator of thought, feeling, action – and, ultimately, social and political change. The highly conceptual and experimental piece, defiant of conventional narrative structure, thus incites solemn reflections on how one can and should respond to these exposed realities. As audience members are led to congregate and engage in multiple spaces of the MAI (both the café-bar area and the black box theatre are visited throughout the 3-part program), we are progressively awakened to the brutalities of the elsewhere, and weighed by the startling numbers. Immersive and interactive, it thus becomes something greater than the sum of its parts.

Thoroughly thought-provoking and profoundly moving,“Numbers Increase As We Count . . .” is most poignant in honouring the unsung heroines of war – lost but not here forgotten. One of our unexpectedly treasured discoveries of the Montreal artistic season, don’t miss its fourth and final performance March 2nd (or hope for a much-deserved encore.)

Thought Experiment Productions presents
“Numbers Increase As We Count . . . “
in English, French, and Turkish

From February 27 – March 2, 2019 at the MAI
(3680, Rue Jeanne-Mance, #103, Montreal, H2X 2K5)

Tickets: $15 – $25 at (514) 982-3386 or

Content advisory: violence / graphic content. Recommended for ages 16+

Creator / Director | Ülfet Sevdi
Performers | Itır Arditi, Burcu Emeç, Ülfet Sevdi
Dramaturgical Consultants | Emma Tibaldo, Sherry Yoon, Louis Patrick Leroux
Sound Designer / Composer / Live Musician | Nicolas Royer-Artuso
Lighting Designer / Technical Director | Michael Tonus
Co-Video Designer | Tori Morrison
Movement Coach | Sarah Williams
Production Assistant | Deniz Başar

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