Festival brings medley of theater activities to Beirut campus
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August 14, 2008—
With an increasingly rich program, the 11th International Theatre Festival brought together performers, directors and crews from various Arab universities in late July on the Beirut campus.
The Arts and Communications Department decided to reschedule and go ahead with the event as it tried to come to terms with the loss of longtime colleague Miled Karkour a few days before the opening.
Communication Arts students helped with the planning and staging of the festival’s diverse activities, including plays, street theater, dance performances, poetry reading, presentations, and workshops.
The event “was very special because it took place after a catastrophe for all of us—Miled’s death—and we had to live up to the values of Miled,” said Associate Professor and an organizing committee member Mona Knio.
“The students were aware of that and they worked hard to make sure that the work they would do would be up to the standards that Miled would accept,” she added.
In addition, the festival organizers had to overcome the setback caused by armed fighting in Beirut in May. Despite some changes in the program, the festival allowed students to gain more exposure to different aspects of theater production such as acting, stage management, lighting, and sound and set design.
Knio said that the multinational and diversified performances also offered opportunities for interaction among students and participants coming from various cultures and performing arts backgrounds. Universities, institutes, and presenters from Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Syria participated in different forms in the six-day event.
The performances touched on such issues as corruption, poverty, stereotyping, feminism, fear of the unknown, and lack of effective communication. Messages were relayed in varying ways, from the gloomy The Blind (LAU), to a brighter Voiceless World featuring actors with speech and hearing disabilities (Al Bayan Institution, Lebanon), and the new language of We Don’t Understand, spoken in reverse (University of Bahrain).
Other plays performed at LAU theaters included Insinuation (dance theater) by the dance department of Syria’s Higher Institute for the Performing Arts; Life on Line by Yarmouk University in Jordan; The Other by the University of Wahran, Algeria; Insomnia by the Lebanese University, and four student productions by LAU (If You’re Glad, I’ll Be Frank; By a Thread; 10,000 Cigarettes; and R.A.W.: ‘Cause I’m A Woman).
Some other activities were the installation performance of Regrets of the Statue of Man (Saint Joseph University), the poetry reading by two LAU students, and the improvised Reclaiming the Streets, in which the Interactive Performance Group promoted the idea of art—rather than riots, clashes and demonstrations—dominating the streets of Lebanon.
The program also included four theater-related presentations.
- Dr. Hanan Qassab Hassan spoke about the “Damascus: Arab Capital of Culture 2008” festivities, in her capacity as secretary-general of the event;
- Zico House talked about creating theater companies in villages (rural areas), a project by a group of five Lebanese directors;
- Associate Professor Maurice Maalouf discussed the numerous benefits of joining the International Theatre Institute;
- Rathna Kumari, the director of the National Theatre Institute in Sri Lanka, introduced the evolution of theater in her country from its earliest forms of ritualistic dances to contemporary performances.
Workshops were held on sound techniques, body balance and projection of emotions on stage.
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