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LAU on the international stage

July 20, 2012—

Around 130 communication arts and performing arts students from various Arab universities converged on LAU Beirut to participate in the 14th International University Theater Festival.

Organized by the Department of Communication Arts on July 10-14, the five-day annual festival featured a total of 12 student-theater productions, acted and directed entirely by university students.

A Crime in a Hospital, directed by LAU communication arts student Mazen Saad El Din was a crowd favorite. Based on the play by Lebanese poet and playwright Issam Mahfouz, it follows Issam Mahfouz himself as he visits five mental patients, in an attempt to investigate a crime that happened in the mental institution where they reside.

“Working with people from different countries was truly memorable. This is the first time I receive feedback from people from such diverse backgrounds. It gives you a whole new perspective,” says Saad El Din.

The festival comprised various musical performances, several short film screenings, and a non-student performance by the International Association for Creation and Training in Egypt.

“This festival’s success is entirely thanks to the students’ seriousness, commitment, and determinedness to organize it and be part of it,” said Dr. Mona Knio, associate professor of theater and chairperson of the communication arts department, at the event’s opening ceremony.

In addition to directing, acting in and staging the plays, LAU students were also responsible for technical tasks crucial to the staging of the productions, including set construction and management and light- and sound-checking.

“‪Meeting the theatrical troupes from abroad and helping them in any way set the festival’s tone — one of humility, sincerity and commitment to cultural value,” says LAU communication arts student Alia Samman. Samman acted in both The Cage and Victoria Station, a play she also directed.

Hala Masri, LAU theater coordinator, agrees saying the event offered an excellent opportunity for students from various countries, cultures, and backgrounds to exchange ideas about art and theater.

A festival highlight, says Masri, was the daily “chat room,” an informal forum allowing participants to discuss, analyze, and evaluate the previous day’s performances.

“You’d be surprised how much you can learn from the insights of people from other educational institutions and countries,” stresses Masri. “Viewing your work through fresh eyes helps you to gain perspective, and make improvements and modifications for the next time.”

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Philippe Frossard’s implored all those involved to “follow your heart — if you are passionate about what you do, you will succeed.” Judging by their palpable energy, they didn’t take much persuading.

Participants came from various Arab universities, including Alexandria University (Egypt), University of Sousse (Tunisia), Hassan II University - Mohammedia (Morocco), Beirut Arab University, Haigazian University, and LAU (Lebanon).
 

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A scene from Exit the King, an LAU student production.

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Students from the Moroccan University of Hassan II-Muhammadiyah, in Auction Market

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LAU students in Crime in a Hospital.

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A scene from He Who Is Born Is Stuck, a Beirut Arab University student production.

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Lines From Egypt’s Notebook, University of Alexandria.

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LAU students present Psychosis.

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Six Characters in Search for an Author, Haigazian University.

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A scene from Steps, University of Sousse, Tunisia.

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LAU student production The Cage.

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LAU students in The Chairs.

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A scene from Alkhadimatein (the two maids), University of Alexandria.

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Victoria Station, an LAU student production.

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Around 130 communication arts and performing arts students from various Arab universities took part in the festival.

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