"All the World is a Stage" Sweida Theater Festival, remarkable 4th session performance

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances"__ Shakespeare

Theater is one of the most interactive kinds of art where actors and audience deeply connect. They both truly feel what it is to be a human being, a sense well expressed by Oscar Wilde “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” 

Sweida Theater Festival, for this year session, succeeded in challenging difficulties through new blood. The fourth session of the festival achieved a significant leap in terms of performance, script writing, and directing.

The festival was organized by the Directorate of Theaters and Music in the Ministry of Culture, along with the Department of National Theater in Sweida, in cooperation with the Governorate's Culture Directorate. Itwas launched beginning of December, as part of the celebration of the Syrian Culture Days, “My Culture, My Identity”.

As expressed by Dr. Tamer Al-Arbeed, head of the festival jury, who considered the continuation of holding the festival for four successive years, is by itself asignificant achievement, specifically in light of theatrical production difficulties. Dr. Al-Arbeed sees that "this session has made a qualitative leap from its previous versions in terms of actors performance, drama-scripts participating, and directing. In addition, showrooms overwhelmed by the public with large attendance."

Dr. Al-Arbeed added that this annual event, is a chance for young and unknown theater-workers, passionate in Sweida governorate, to be known through displaying their talents and theatrical shows. It is as well an occasionto get introduced to the audience and to meet with other actors, directors, and scriptwriters and share experience.Dr. Al-Arbeed affirmed that "this year session was brilliant, as it has introduced remarkable young actors who made exceptional performances on stage." 

The festival jury head, Dr. Al-Arbeed clarified that the three days festival has hosted theatrical plays and workshops for participants on theater making, along with discussions between contributors, contestants, and interested.

The theatre is certainly a place for learning about the brevity of human glory: oh all those wonderful glittering absolutely vanished farce. “Escorial”, a play by Hakaya troupe, directed by Layal Al-Hadi, won best performance award at fourth Sweida Theater Festival. The play, through one hour performance presents a conflictualsituation that took place in the castle of El Escorial in Spain. The struggle goes between the king and the clown over the throne and the queen. Ms. Al-Hadi, the playdirector, explained that the decoration and scenography were employed in favor of the show to present symbolic connotations that reflect the conspiracies that the clown plotted against the king and the hidden conflict between them.

Actors are all about entrances, but writers are all about exits. That is why the theatrical show “Cinderella's Shoe” written and directed by Wiam Badaish, won the Special Jury Prize. The play was presented by Helm theatrical troupe in cooperation with the Syrian Theatrical Dancing crew  Scheherazade. While the award for best direction went to Rifaat Al-Hadi for the play "The Bear"by Russian writer Anton Chekhov Presented by TajamoHakaya artistic troupe. 

Acting is a sport. On stage you must be ready to move like a tennis player on his toes. Your concentration must be keen, your reflexes sharp; your body and mind are in top gear, the chase is on. Acting is energy. In the theatre people pay to see energy. Therefore, Lojiane Hamza won best actress award for her role in “Cinderella's shoe”play, while Hazar Nofal won award for best actor for his role in “Cracking the Noses”, along with Talal Abu Shdid for his role in “The Bear”. Whereas best scenography award went to the show “Selfie”, presented by University Theater Troupe in Sweida, and preparedand directed by Walid Al-Aqel.

The festival's closing ceremony included a theatrical performance entitled “The Lottery Seller” written by Mansour Harb Heneidi, acting and direction by MaanDoueir. The work reflected passion for theater. In addition to a dance show performed by Sham Dance Theater Company, which included multiple artistic and patriotic pieces, embodying the values of courage, generosity, and authenticity of the Syrian people customs. In this closing ceremony members of the selection and judging committees were honored as well. 

At the closing ceremony, the jury underlined in its report on the festival, the collective efforts made to make from this annual event a success. The closing speech was made by Suhair Barhoum, Director of the National Theater in Damascus. Who also noted the accurate organizationprocess according to health precautionary requirements.The report confirmed the presence of a young and active theatrical movement in Sweida governorate, which has held and hosted its own festival in order to encourage and motivate people to pursue their dreams and theatrical activities. The festival report concluded in praising acting performances, and direction and scriptwriting, and invited the participants to display their shows at Damascus theaters.

While the head of the National Theater Department in Sweida, Wajih Qaisiya, expressed the hope of playwrights that the next session will achieve the aspirations of those interested in theater through the efforts of those concerned, thanking everyone who contributed to the success of this session.

“Theatre is a sacred space for actors. You are responsible; you are in the driving-seat.” – Greta Scacchi. Theater is not only art it’s a responsibility, because great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to. With theatre, you have to be ready for anything. 

Report: Lama Alhassanieh