19 August 2007

Hearing Voices

January 13 - January 26, 2007
Issue 14

Woman. For a while, she was totally revered, respected, admired. But time came that she was shattered, ignored, ripped and left blind. Domestic abuses, war conflicts, cultural annihilations, struggle for her own individuality left her lost. But these incidences, no matter how unfortunate, have not defeated her completely, for in one way or another, she still manages to stand up and stand proud. How? They use their voices.

Voices is a neat suite of ten diverse yet thematically-linked works, all giving voice to different phases in women’s lives,” said Ann Sandin, Director of Al Ain Theatre Society (AATS). "But it is not a night of heavy theatre and yawns, rather, it has plenty humor and absurdity as characters work through situations the audience is sure to find familiar in some way. There’s nothing objectionable in the show but it really isn’t for children. I don’t think that kids would be terribly entertained. It really is for teenagers and adults," she added.

“Most of the scripts are by Western playwrights, including the award winning Wendy Wasserstein, but we have tried to stretch ourselves a bit and have incorporated some contemporary Arab drama as well. A recently translated selection by Palestinian playwright Samia Qazmouz Bakri makes an intriguing addition to the evening.”

For the women, by the women, from the women

Proceeds from the production will be donated to the Women for Women International, an organization headquartered in Washington D.C. helping women in war-torn countries rebuild their lives. "Women for Women International works in many countries and help women rebuild their lives. Our ticket sales money will go to them, and we are hoping to earmark our donations for the programs in Lebanon, as well as to Iraq, and to Afghanistan."

"What we would like to happen is to sell out those two nights and we’ll be forced to perform it again and raise more money for Women for Women. I’ve been in contact with their headquarters in Washington D.C. and they are interested with what we are doing."

Rehearsals for the play have been in the works since October, but the concept of Voices started last spring during the inaugural meeting of the Al Ain Theatre Society. Dale Taylor, co-founder and AATS Secretary, suggested an "evening of voices" exploring a common theme.

"The idea appealed to me for a couple of reasons. First, from a creative perspective, I liked the idea of combining, mixing and matching multiple short plays into a whole; Second, from a practical perspective, given everyone’s busy schedule, a collection of short plays containing 1-2 cast members seemed easier to compartmentalize and rehearse than a full-cast conventional play. So Dale and I went on to compile a list of appropriate, accessible and affordable short plays. The theme we had in mind at the start was quite broad – relationships– but that was eventually narrowed down to women’s relationships. Since then, through the course of auditions and the rehearsal process, the collection has evolved into its final form, a neat suite of ten diverse yet thematically-linked works, all giving voice to different phases in women’s lives."

Aside from being an amateur director, Sandin is also an English Lecturer at UAE University. She became hooked on theatre when she was 16, spending half of the day in a repertory theatre company. Her first play was on a lark, 'not knowing what to expect, and was surprised at how fun, challenging and addictive the rehearsal process could be.' After graduating from a theatre arts university, she went to Palestine to teach English and Drama in a girls’ school and had opportunity to design the theatre program there.

“In Palestine I directed student and community productions. My proudest achievement was a collaborative project – a commedia style fable in Arabic – that earned us an invitation to perform at a professional theatre, the El-Hakawati, in Jerusalem.”

Voices would be the first production Ann has been involved in since moving to the Emirates in 2004. "One encouraging thing about several of these titles is that the playwrights and/or publishers waived the usual royalty fees associated with performances. They were very supportive of our project, especially given the fundraising aspect."

The pieces are Arms and the Mom by Annie Enscoe, Hey Boss? by Dianne Luby, Meanwhile, Goodbye by Marianne Ackerman, Their Only Child by Laura M. Williams, Workout by Wendy Wasserstein, and The Bathhouse (From The Alley) by Samia Qazmouz Bakri, translated from Arabic to English by L. El Khalidi & C. Tingley.

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