Public Affairs

The Drama Program at AUK Presents Arabian Nights

21st Dec 2015 | by the Office of Public Affairs

The Drama Program at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) presented its annual Fall theatre production for members of the AUK community. This year's production, The Arabian Nights, was adapted by playwright Mary Zimmerman and directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre/Drama, Dr. Kathleen R. Downs, under the auspice of the Music and Drama Department.

The production included performances by veteran AUK actors Tori Danner, Mohammed Al-Saeed, Eamon Issa, Yousef Nayef, Raghda Rustom, Maryam Hassanein and Nezar Al Tabaa. The show also introduced newcomers Hamad Al-Khaled, Mohammad Al-Adl, Rona Hasan, Nasser B. Zarooa and Sema Ahmad to the University's theatre community. Maryam Hassanein served as Stage Manager for The Arabian Nights and Makeup Mistress. The production crew included veteran cameraman Mohammad Al-Adl, Ken Downs on lights, and newcomers Ayman Kandil on sound and Mohammed Boodai on stage properties. PR and poster design were done by Khalid Al-Mashaan and Dhari Al-Kulaifi.

Dr. Downs' DRAM 160/360 production class made up part of the ensemble, with the rest of the company consisting of Alpha Psi Omega members and volunteers who met for eight weeks during the semester, immersing themselves in the characters they portrayed. All of the members helped each other with their various duties as they worked together to produce the show.

Zimmerman's play centers on stories that have developed through both oral and written traditions in the Middle East since the 9th Century. The power of storytelling is highlighted in the play as the leads, Scherezade and Shahryar, struggle to find their way in life. The interwoven narrative balances slapstick humor with genuine pathos as the characters confront themselves on their difficult journeys. In addition to the acting, the stage was transformed after each scene by the ensembl's use of lights, costumes, makeup, sound, and props. With the exception of a 12-minute intermission, the student actors were on stage throughout the entire production, transporting the audience to another time and place.

Yousef Nayef played eight roles in the production; the Vizier, a Fool, the Clarinetist, the Man in the Dream, the Kurd, the Third Sage, the Old Boatman, and Ishak of Mosul. He explained that the experience was nothing short of exhilarating. "There is nothing more addictive than witnessing words on a page being adapted and translated into actual theatre, to be enacted and given another life by people with hearts, minds, memories, flesh, bones and skin," he said.

The AUK community enjoyed entering the magical world of theatre and actors for four performances. The company engaged the audience in the production as participants rather than mere observers. They look forward to the next theatrical event, planned for the Spring semester of 2016.

The Department of Music and Drama offers a wide range of opportunities for both beginning and advanced students within the context of a liberal arts education. The Music and Drama faculty of talented professionals work closely with students to prepare them for campus concerts and plays, and to academically challenge them in courses on performing arts. The department fosters artistic proficiency, cultural appreciation, a sense of community, and a lifelong commitment to the arts.

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 21st December 2015

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2015

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