The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) held an international symposium in observance of World Theater Day, with the participation of eminent writers, play directors and academicians. The event aimed at casting light on the importance of theater in achieving sustainable development and cultivating harmonious coexistence, discussing its history and culture and reviewing the developments it has witnessed over the years.
Participants in the symposium, held on Monday, March 28, 2022, via videoconference, emphasized the importance of cultural policies and the need to elaborate strategies aimed at the development of creative capacities to advance the cultural field in the Islamic world.
Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General (DG), delivered the opening remarks in which he noted that this celebration highlights the profound significance of fine art and culture, awakens the civilizational awareness of societies, and underlines the need for sustainable development and human prosperity, which lay at the core of theatrical art.
He added that one of ICESCO’s main missions is supporting theatre through a forward-looking vision promoting initiatives that are geared towards the development of theatrical art as an intangible cultural heritage reflecting a sense of belonging and civic engagement, and mirroring a culture of integration, teamwork, dialogue and openness.
ICESCO DG stressed that the Organization, in cooperation with its Member States, endeavors to strengthen human competencies and creative talents in fine theatrical art. “ICESCO recommends logistic and financial support for theater and artists, the preservation of their rights and intellectual property, the reconciliation of theatrical art with education, the integration of people with disabilities into theatrical work, the use of theater in the promotion of social cohesion, and the safeguarding of theatrical heritage through the latest archival technologies,” added Dr. AlMalik.
In his address, Dr. Mohamed Zinelabidine, Head of ICESCO’s Culture and Communication Sector, noted that ICESCO’s observance of World Theater Day is part of its new vision based on openness to all cultural fields. “This celebration is an appreciation of the role of culture in defining the essence of societies, a recognition of its importance and a promotion of cultural luminaries,” added the ICESCO official.
Dr. Dima Hamdan, Supervisor of the ICESCO Chair at the Lebanese University, emphasized that theater has historically been used as a shield against crises. She added that theater is an art that translates suffering into fine cathartic works that speak to the soul, and that it is a means of communication that anchors development, social cohesion and coexistence.
Dr. Dima Hamdan then moderated the symposium’s sessions, yielding the floor to Dr. Messaoud Driss, Professor at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Art at Tunis University, whose address touched upon the history of Tunisian theater and the stages of its evolution as well as the characteristics of Tunisian cultural practices. For his part, Dr. Sulayman Al-Bassam, playwright and director, reviewed his theatrical scripts and performances and explained how he drew inspiration from reality in selecting the themes of his works.
Dr. Omar Fertat, Lecturer at Bordeaux Montaigne University in France, reviewed the general trends of the Moroccan theater, which witnessed a prominent female presence in recent years. In the same vein, Ms. Nidal Al-Achkar, Lebanese actress and director, noted that theater is a binding link between all members of society, regardless of differences in classes and ideas.
In his address, Dr. Machhour Mustapha, Professor in the Department of Theatre, Cinema and Television at the Doctoral School of the Lebanese University, discussed the various methods of teaching play directing, underlining that it is imperative for directing instructors to be knowledgeable about acting. He also underscored the need to support artists, provide spaces for cultural activities and develop a sense of objective criticism to attain cultural prosperity.