Two refugees to perform in a play at Damansara art fest


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 04 Jul 2019

PETALING JAYA: Two refugees have been invited to be part of a local theatre production in an attempt by the local arts scene to promote inclusiveness.

Mwaffaq Alhajjar and Farzana Hussaini, from Syria and Afghanistan respectively, will perform in Blank, a play by Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour Nassim, as part of the Damansara International Arts Festival (DIAF) from July 5-7.

Curated by Jo Kukathas, the show will also feature well-known Malaysian actors Sharifah Amani, Ghafir Akbar and Arief Hamizan.

The show will mark the debut of 27-year-old Mwaffaq in Malaysian theatre.

Mwaffaq, who left Syria three years ago because of the war, has been active in reading poetry here, having performed in several festivals.

While he describes himself as a poet, he said that he was very fond of art and would always try to adapt every form of it.

"I belong to theatre and the stage a lot. And I am very excited and thrilled to perform here.

"It is a matter of feeling at home.

"Acting or performing, reciting poetry or singing, I believe that it is all art. The art of delivering a feeling or a metaphor, an image or a story. They all intersect, and I have always loved to do this," said Mwaffaq.

Farzana Hussaini, 17, meanwhile, has taken on a lead role before as the child bride Nazanin in the play Screaming in Silence. She performed the role 17 times in Kuala Lumpur.

There is only one actor every evening, and at the start of the show, the actor is given Nassim’s script.

The actors have never seen or rehearsed it, and some words in that script are left blank for the actor and the audience to fill in themselves.

Essentially, the actor and a member of the audience becomes the characters, deciding what they want to tell us of their life story so that a new story is created collaboratively every night.

Kukathas said they wanted to adopt a more inclusive approach by inviting both Mwaffaq and Farzana to perform.

"It is a chance to get to know other people, such as Mwaffaq and Farzana. For whatever reasons, they are refugees because of circumstances.

"They can show that they have other things to offer, and that they are more than just people who need to take care of their stomachs," she said.

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