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Greek classic gets Arab makeover at GU-Q.

An Arab version of the classical Greek play, Antigone , was recently brought to life on stage by a cast of students of Georgetown University in Qatar ( GU-Q) to an audience of 150 students, staff, faculty and family members.

The play, performed at the university's campus auditorium, was the first performance of GU-Q's recently launched school club, the Theatre Group.

The play and the Theatre Group were entirely inspired and developed by Georgetown students with the support of university faculty and staff who oversaw the logistics of the group's first production.

Layanne Malluhi, a GU-Q culture and politics sophomore, started working on modifying the Bertolt Brecht version of the classical script by Greek playwright Sophocles to make it more relevant to the Middle East, in January.

When the script was finalised, open auditions were held with more than 20 students auditioning for a total of 13 parts. An e-mail campaign was launched to encourage more male students to audition as the female students far outnumbered them.

In the end, one male role was rewritten for a female actor. Qatari student Hessa al-Noaimi was cast in the title role of Antigone and Waleed Hachicho played King Creon, Antigone's uncle and the ruler of Thebes, where the mythical story is set.

"Five students auditioned for the part of Antigone and I was called in for a second audition before I got the part," said Hessa. "This was my first experience acting in a play. I have always wanted to do theatre, and when I learned Antigone was the play, I researched the story and fell in love with it."

Hessa was particularly impressed by the relevance of the story's message to a modern audience despite the fact that 'Antigone' was written thousands of years ago. "My character makes references to wealth, to overspending and to losing one's morals in a modern world and for me, these are the challenges of the Arab world, where we are now trying to focus on meaning and productivity, not just consumption."

Georgetown's dean Dr Gerd Nonneman said, "The curriculum is quite demanding on students, so I am very proud to see these students put on a professional theatrical performance of this literary classic while meeting all of their academic requirements. Theatre has long been a vital cultural platform for the discussion of major ideas and important themes in the study of human civilisation."

The storyline of the play focuses on the social, legal and spiritual dynamics of a war-torn dynasty in Thebes, with the daughter of Oedipus, Antigone, clashing with her uncle, King Creon, who punishes her actions before ultimately forgiving her.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Jul 9, 2014
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