Spring Play Festival and Arts Week showcase student talent

The Spring Play Festival at King’s Academy ended the last week of classes before Spring Break on a high note, offering the school community plenty in the way of comedy, entertainment and food for thought.

The festival was just one of the events taking place during King’s first annual Arts Week. The Department of Fine and Performing Arts presented a line-up of performances, workshops and exhibitions that brought the community together to celebrate the arts in all its divisions including visual, musical, theater and dance.

The three-play festival included two English plays directed by senior Theater students and one Arabic play directed by Arabic faculty members from the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and the Literary Arts (CRLA).

The Arabic play was performed on March 13 in the Lecture Hall and was based on an adaptation of Kuwaiti author Badr Mohareb’s book Hadath fi Jomhoriyyat al Moz, which translates to “It happened in the Banana Republic.”

Directed by Head of Arabic Mohammad Al-Ashkar and Arabic teacher Atef Abu Sarris, the cast of 12 presented a passionate performance of the play that – satirically – calls for freedom from oppression, dictatorship and fear.

According to Al-Ashkar, although the play is symbolic in the sense that it does not name actual people or places, the subject matter is very relevant in light of recent events in the Arab world.    

“Our students come from diverse backgrounds and are very aware of political, social and economic issues, so the theme of this play – of not being controlled by fear and of searching for freedom and happiness – is really important,” said Al-Ashkar.

The English plays were performed back-to-back in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium on March 14 and 15. Half-Past-Six is an original play written and directed by Abigail Smith ’17 while Maya Abdulqader ’17 directed Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest from an adaptation by Jason Pizzarello.

Half-Past-Six is a fast-paced drama, with a cast of only six, that blends two stories into one. According to student playwright Smith, the play is about time, what we do with it, and how we move past things.

“The theme is fitting for me because I’m dealing with the experience of leaving school soon,” she said.

During her four years at King’s, Smith has been in 11 theater productions, but this was her directing debut. “Directing has been awesome. It’s something I really wanted to do before my relationship with King’s theater comes to an end.”

With plenty of acting experience under her belt, the challenge of writing and directing came as a surprise to Smith who had to not only create a story but also think about its presentation, such as the sets, characters and stage directions.

“It was eye-opening to have to do all of it. I’ve learned a lot about theater, but more about my own leadership style,” she explained. “I ask my cast lots of questions about what they think feels right for their characters because I found that the results are better when they come to the decision themselves.”

Directing was also a first for Abdulqader, whose cast of seven led a hilarious performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, which shines a farcical light on people’s attempts to escape burdensome social obligations.

“Directing teaches you a lot about yourself artistically and as a person,” said Abdulqader. “Apparently I’m more patient than I thought!”

Being responsible for the whole process from adapting the play, to guiding the actors and thinking of different ways to do the scenes was a completely consuming experience according to Abdulqader who ate, slept and breathed the play in the run up.

“Artistically it’s so nerve-racking. I’ve acted before but never felt that nervous, it’s all on you,” she said. “But it’s also amazing in that it taught me to have a vision and how to communicate that vision to other people and artists. It helped being an actor originally, as I was able to put myself in the characters’ shoes to guide the actors.”

In addition to the Spring Play Festival, Arts Week events included the Spring Dance Concert, the Middle School play, an international film festival and performances by the improv theater troupe, rock band, faculty band and the guitar and string ensembles. Students produced powerful performances and delved deep into subjects during the dance workshops and a series of visual arts workshops at which local and international artists taught students from local public and private schools as well as King’s.

According to Head of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts Carol AbiZaid: “Arts Week is an opportunity to highlight the work of students and for different communities to come together to chronical culture, history, opinion, personal memory and story and to share those artistic representations.”

Half-Past-Six cast: Yazan al-Asad ’17; Mousa Abu-Ghosh ’18; Nasser Gammoh ’18; Minjee Kim ’17; Jamila Kurani ’19; Rasha Nabulsi ’18

Importance of Being Earnest cast: Rakan Cameron-Haddadin ’19; Dario Pomar ’19; Jenna Sharaf ’19; Yara Mustafa ’20; Zayd Lahham ’19; Hashim Khalayleh ’18; Tiamike Dudley ’17

Arabic play cast: Mohammad Shdaifat ’18; Mahmoud Al Njedeen ’19; Selina Al Masarwah ’19; Zena Amawi ’19; Moath Momani ’19; Osama AlAshkar ’19; Balqees AlShorman ’18; Faris Al Jaraideh ’18; Nedaa Awawdeh ’20; Yousef Abdo ’20; Roa’a Al Kilany ’19; Nour Karadsheh ’18. Fayrouziyyat Choir: Ferdinand Al-Hourani ’19; Nayef Hattar ’19; Hend AlZeer ’20