By Alia Makady
“Why? What will you end up doing in your life?” This is a statement that many students of the Performance and Visual Arts department can relate to. Many have grown up in societies where art, theatre and music are considered quite a fantastic time killer, but not exactly career paths. Nour Refaat, known to everyone simply as Nousha, defies that stereotype. She is a 20 year old theatre major and art minor, who, at such a young age, managed to have her career started as a freelance, on-demand artist, selling her entire collection last summer. Moreover, she’s currently the lead female role of AUC’s main stage theatre production ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, Nurse Ratched and the assistant set designer of the play.
If you catch Nousha having a break from her busy schedule, you’ll probably see her with a little black notebook, just scribbling. Those scribbles end up being some of the most eccentric pieces of art! Nousha got her first set of paints from her grandfather when she was one and a half. Ever since then, she has been hooked on painting and drawing. Her grandfather, who is a retired general and an artist, was the gene holder for Nousha’s artistic side. They even share the same artistic thumb. “I grew up in an environment where it was okay to do what I love”, she added.
During the summer of her freshmen year, Nousha got a gig working as an on-demand artist. Last summer, however, what started out as a gig, became a flourishing career. “I really wanted to make money last summer because I was broke and couldn’t do anything. I’m not one to exactly ask for money, a lot of money at least, from my parents. I mean, they’ve given me enough already”. She sold her first collection to her aunts, who spread the word that there was a new, talented on-demand artist in town. This is quite an exciting job, but you must be full-heartedly in love with it. The process that goes into making a painting is tedious. “I do some preliminary drawings first, then finalized sketches and color schemes. Once that is done, I actually start working on the actual paintings”, Nousha explained.
It really is amazing how an artist can translate and adapt his talents. Nousha used to play the cello, piano and guitar. However, due to an injury in the ligaments that she faced a couple of years ago, she cannot play anymore. What did she do? “I’m insane about music” she said, “I listen to one song and put in on repeat and make a painting out of it. I just love anything to do with creativity and expression.”
Nousha has always been in love with theatre, but she didn’t actually become involved in AUC theatre productions until her sophomore year. She had no intention of auditioning for a play, but it took none other than The Laila Saad to convince her to audition for ‘the Odd Couple’, and she got cast. “The whole process was exhilarating. I enjoyed it, every bit of it.” She got bitten by the stage bug. Currently, her role in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is Nurse Ratched. The play is set in a psychiatric ward, and Nurse Ratched is the warden of the asylum. As Nousha describes her, “she is judge, jury and executioner”. She’s probably the most multifaceted character in this play. Nousha took it one step further by marrying both art and theatre in her influence in the set design.
Our nation might be a long way from accepting art, theatre, music, and creative writing as career paths that are worth nurturing, but it hasn’t always been like that. Until now, we are affected by remarkable musicians and singers such as Um Kolthoum, Farid el Atrash and Shadia. Naguib Mahfouz managed to influence the entire literary world. Yes, the Egyptian community is getting the artiness back; however, it’s not enough to just keep it alive, as Nousha describes it. She said that there needs to be that extra push; “getting rid of censorship to begin with. There should be freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Every human being has the right to it,” she concluded.