Lebanese theater scene suffering due to economic crisis

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BEIRUT, Feb 22, (Agencies): As the dire economic situation continues to drag on in Lebanon, the theater scene — as in the case of various other sectors — has been down on its luck with producers, actors, and staff suffering from lack of financing, earnings, as well as the everlooming threat of the coronavirus. “We continue to strive to provide the best theatrical, musical, and artistic performances despite the gloomy situation engulfing Lebanon,” founder and director of Al-Madina theater group and actress Nidal Al- Achkar told KUNA in an interview.

File Photo: Passersby walk by a woman (center) sitting on the ground with her daughter begging on Beirut’s commercial Hamra Street, in Beirut, Lebanon, March 16, 2021. (AP Photo)

Al-Achkar added that the theater group carried on with the help of friends in Lebanon and abroad who covered the expenses of production and paid for actors. Al-Madina Theather would continue to strive providing the best for those seeking entertainment, affirmed Al-Achkar who insisted that supporting artists was the best way to keep talent from migrating elsewhere. On his part, Georges Khabbaz — producer, writer, and actor — indicated that the fall of the Lebanese currency and the presence of COVID-19 had heavily affected national theater scene.

“It is possible to produce ‘monodrama’ and ‘pocket theater’ due lower cost of production,” indicated Khabbaz who noted that these aforementioned theater styles, with their solo and students-ran natures, were an alternative for big production theater. Khabbaz revealed that most Lebanese talents had migrated to theater and television production elsewhere in the Arab world so that they could escape the absurd situation back at home, hoping that at some point the economy would recover to allow the artistic scene to thrive again in Lebanon. The problems in the Lebanese theater scene predates the current economic and health crises, claimed Mirna Khayat, a director and actress, while speaking to KUNA. Entertainment theater and comedy theater had been prevailing lately due to their small cost and ease of production, she indicated, noting that anyone who sought large-scale theater production in Lebanon was taking a big risk. She said that that if there were any kind of major theater in Lebanon at this moment, it was usually funded from abroad, driving most actors and theater staff to seek such kind of work or switch to other performance arts to cover their expenses.

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