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Muslims, Jews, Christians Unite in "Arab Awakenings"

Qatari students’ dramas and film are revived on Evanston stage

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June 7, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Arab Awakenings” -- six short student-written plays coming Saturday (June 9) to Northwestern University’s Evanston campus from its Doha campus and performed by Muslim, Jewish and Christian students -- will touch on provocative social issues and the historic uprisings that shook the Arab world earlier this year.

Written by Northwestern University Qatar students from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and other Middle East nations, the two-hour live show begins at 2 p.m. at the Mussetter-Struble Theater in the Theatre and Interpretation Center, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston. It is free and open to the public.  

“Homosexuality and alcoholism probably are not subjects American audiences associate with the Middle East, but they are among the topics these 10-minute plays address,” says Ann Woodworth, a School of Communication theatre professor who co-taught the Qatar campus class culminating in “Arab Awakenings.”

“The show’s themes are both universal and related to new challenges in Arab culture growing out of the Arab Spring,” she adds. “Lyric Revolt” -- a short documentary film about the rise of hip-hop music in the Middle East developed by three award-winning Medill students studying journalism in Qatar -- also is part of the Saturday event.

“The Evanston rehearsals of ‘Arab Awakenings’ were eye-opening for everyone involved,” said Woodworth. “There were lively discussions and interchange among the Arab, Jewish and Christian student participants. Ultimately, all of us – whether from the U.S., Egypt, Iraq, Palestine or Jordan -- learned so much from one another.”

Four of the original student actors -- one of whom is part of the first graduating class at Northwestern University Qatar -- are reprising their roles in the Evanston production. Also in Evanston are four of the six playwrights and all three filmmakers. A trio of student actors from the Evanston campus is the latest addition to the cast.