King’s Academy, March 22, 2015 — Before heading off to different parts of the world for spring break, the King’s Academy community enjoyed yet another hilarious Winter Play Festival organized by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts for the second year in a row.
A medley of three short plays directed by Ahmed Khalayleh ’15 and Talib Kateeb ’15 kicked off the festival on March 15 and was performed for two nights in the Lecture Hall.
First on the agenda was John Clancy’s Another Beautiful Story, a postmodern representation of the importance of having meaning in a play, during which the narrator appears on stage only to “drop dead” before revealing anything about the plot. As the characters attempt to take over where he left off, they too end up sharing a similar fate, leaving the audience without a central story but with plenty of laughs. David Ives’s The Blizzard also supplied plenty of laughter in the humorous albeit ominous situation of a seemingly normal couple (played by Abigail Smith ’17 and Daniel Leal ’15) whose trust is tested when the odd duo Natasha and Salim (played by Natali Salaytah ’15 and Ahmad Freihat ’16) show up at their cabin door during a snow storm one fateful evening. The latter two show up unannounced – assuming the identity of mutual friends – and once they’re let in, a psychological battle enfolds as fear and tension build up in a struggle for dominance between the strangers. But it was the charming performance of Natasha Abaza ’15 as the witty titular character in Bruce Kane’s Ruby of Elsinore that stole the show on both nights. Playing an attentive hairdresser with a plethora of tongue-in-cheek comments for her customers, who happened to be the protagonists of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Abaza listened patiently to the dramatic and often self-centered dilemmas of Ophelia (Tala Habbab ’15), Gertrude (Layla Hazaineh ’16), Claudius (Hamza Siraj ’16), Hamlet (Yazan Al-Asad ’17) and the ghost of Hamlet’s deceased father (also played by Siraj) before offering sound words of advice as well as a few hair tips and tricks.
The second part of the festival took place on March 17 and 18 in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium, where – under the direction of Faculty Members Mark and Diane Foster – King’s families and friends attended Ed Graczyk’s The Rude Mechanicals, a comical adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Starring the unemployed carpenter Peter Quince (played by Amin Janjua ’16), the play centers on a group of failing manual laborers (or “rude mechanicals,” a term borrowed from a Shakespearian stage direction), who – with the help of a whimsical sprite called Robin Goodfellow (played by Whitney Anderson ’16) – compete for a reward offered by the Duke of Athens to perform in a play in honor of his impending wedding. A string of disasters ensues in this comical depiction of love, entertainment and perseverance before the endearing group ultimately wins their prize.
Janjua, who’s been actively involved in the theater program at King’s over the years, credits the acting experience for providing him with a creative outlet for stress relief as well as a means for personal enjoyment.
“I’ve always loved watching films and I knew from a young age that I wanted to be on stage,” he said. “When I got involved with acting at school, that’s when I really started to enjoy it. It’s a lot of work and dedication but it’s so much fun. When you see the audience laughing and everyone’s happy during the show…that’s what matters.”