The theater department started off the semester with auditions for the upcoming Arabic play “Rituals of Signals and Transformation” held from Sept. 11 to Sept 12, after which call backs took place. The rehearsal process is expected to take up to five weeks, which will pose as a challenge for everyone participating in the play’s production.
The play is originally in the Syrian dialect, but it will be performed in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, except for a few formal Arabic words for the sake of comedy. The script was written by a very famous Syrian playwright Saad Allah Wanoos. Menna Ellaithy, the stage manager and a huge fan of Wanoos, described him as “one of the pioneers of Arabic political theater.”
The play’s title is indicative of its subject matter, which Ellaithy says is about “transforming from the image society (has of you) into the real you.” The characters in the play constantly go through transformations; for example, the virtuous wife becomes a prostitute and the humble and reserved man turns out to be homosexual.
Ellaithy is in charge of organizing production, communicating with the crew and director, controlling the cues during the performance, and other such things for the show. She described the play’s plot in three different phases, starting with the time of the Ottoman Empire and ending with contemporary times when one actor uses Facebook to make a declaration. Although it was originally set in Syria, the actors have “Egyptianized” the play so it can be set in Egypt.
Mohamed Essam, an undeclared sophomore who auditioned for the play, said that he had heard about the auditions through fellow students and friends that he met while taking a theater course as an elective with Dr. Mahmoud El Lozy.
Essam commented that, “A lot of people go into certain majors but through the activities they participate in at university, they can take on totally different career paths.”
Reporters were not allowed into the auditions but according to Mohamed Essam, there were two scenes that those who were auditioning could choose between. The actors had thirty minutes to practice whichever scene they chose. Students that mentioned in their audition forms that they can sing were unexpectedly asked to stop acting and sing while they were acting out their scenes during the auditions.
One student was even asked to stop acting out the scene he chose, and was asked to improvise. The student chose to act out the character of a police officer.
Students that will participate in this play may by expecting a difficult rehearsal period, but many of them are also excited about opening night. The play is expected to premier on Oct. 24, and many AUC community members are already planning to be part of the audience.