The Art of Theater: Sima Awanta

"It is in fact the producers and actors who raise the audience’s expectations and to live up to that is critical. And Sima Awanta definitely lived up to that.

The lights turn on and the theatre hushes. The actors step on stage with hearts beating loud. This is it.  This is the moment they’ve prepared long and hard for. Meanwhile, the audience, in anticipation, waits for what this play would come out to be and hope it satisfies their expectations. For a play to fit the audience’s expectations is no easy task – because the audience comes with some expectations already in mind as a result of all the promising promotions they’ve seen. So it is in fact the producers and actors who raise the audience’s expectations, and to live up to that is critical. And Sima Awanta definitely lived up to that.

Everything about the play, from the costumes, the setting, and the proficiency of the actors were just up to a professional, real-art standard. The actors had dazzling talents and were really immersed in their characters to the point where they took you away with them to their own worlds.

The play interestingly depicted the world of show-biz. It displayed the politics in the art of film-making and the corruption behind the screens. They showed the battle between true believers and seekers of the art, and between money-makers and greedy producers who only care about selling their scripts and making hit movies, whatever the content may be.

As the play came to an end, the attempted rape scene raised heated debates and opposite opinions from the audience about its purpose, method, and implication on the audience. This scene once elicited laughter from the audience, thus, diverting the scene from what it was intending to do. The play, a satire, was intending to show the faults of the time and criticize the industry. Hence,  they played it in order to criticize, not underestimate the situation’s seriousness and the rapist horrendous act.

A member of the crew was contacted, Waleed Hammad, the director of the production, explained that, “This feeling of discomfort sometimes results in laughter, which I believe is what happened that night. I am not one to pass judgment on people or accuse audience members of something more sinister than that. I do truly believe that every audience differs.”  And discomfort does elicit laughter, which is shown when people laugh in funerals. This is also validated because it is obvious that on the following nights, the audience did not laugh. Instead, the tension was transmitting in the sacred silence.

The idea to use sex for movies to succeed – and for the audience in the play to laugh – is just cheap. This idea is very evident in modern movies; however, it is arguable that the movie industry at the 50’s were driven by such notions. This time was that of Faten Hammama, Shadia, Rushdi Abaza, and Omar Elsherif. So, the idea that the movie industry was driven by cheap sex is highly arguable; although it is indeed unarguable that through all times there are those who misuse art for their personal gains. The play showed producers, directors, critics, and actors who used it to rise on the social hierarchy versus those who are passionate about acting and creating, and who wish to use their movies as a means to impact their societies and make real art and change.

But as we know, the fight against corruption is never an easy one, since those who are loyal and true have a harder time making it into the industry and rising to the top. However, one can’t help but hope that through plays like this, people have a real idea of the corruption that exists in the world, even in the most beautiful of things: art. Theater was, is, and will always be the art where worlds are created and explored, lives are lived, passions are ablaze, and where the audience and actors on stage are a part of the production. AUC’s Art Department will never fail to live up to the professional standards of this art and will never stop introducing exquisite artists into the world.