BEIRUT

Culture

Examining the importance of beauty

Jurdi, Abou Farhat, Maroun, Labaki and Mitri.

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s love affair with plastic surgery is a well-known fact. Some reports have called Beirut a global leader in surgical embellishment – on par with or beating Brasilia and Miami.

The obsession of the Lebanese with beauty and surgery has reached the point that banks now give out loans for cosmetic procedures. Lebanese women always find reasons to be pretty – or what is pretty to them.

It is on this subject that Lebanese director and founder of “The Actors Workshop,” Jacques Maroun, has decided to center his third production, “Reasons to Be Pretty,” inspired by American playwright Neil Labute’s 2009 play of the same name. Performed on Broadway and in London’s West End, “Reasons to Be Pretty” will come to Beirut starting Oct. 19, at Hamra’s Masrah al-Madina.

Maroun took on the responsibility of producing this play for a Lebanese audience, along with an all-star cast consisting of Nadine Labaki, Talal El Jurdi, Elie Mitri and Nada Abou Farhat.

Labaki is an award-winning director and actress. She is well-known for such cinematographic projects as “Caramel” (2007) and “Where Do We Go Now?” (2011) – for which she was awarded the Public Choice Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. She confesses it will be her first role in a play, however, and says she hopes the Lebanese audience will enjoy the show.

Nada Abou Farhat has had a brilliant career as well. She has worked under the direction of Raymond Gebara, Nidal Al Ashkar and Jawad Al Asadi – to name a few – and won the 2007 Murex D’Or Best Actress award for her role in television drama series “Nidal.”

Talal El Jurdi is a celebrated actor who also won a Murex D’Or for Best Actor in 2002 for his role in “Lama Hikyit Mariam.”

Elie Mitri is among the most acclaimed actors of his generation. He acted in Bahij Hojeij’s movie “Here Comes the Rain,” which earned the Best Arab Feature award at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

The cast of “Reasons to Be Pretty” certainly leads the way when it comes to exceptional theatrical performances, promising to provide a deep insight into the importance of trust, love, beauty and ugliness.

The story centers on Adel (Tala El Jurdi) who wonders what he has done wrong in his relationship with Stephanie (Nadine Labaki) when he realizes she is getting older and losing her appeal. As for Stephanie, she doesn’t know what to do: should she stay with a man who no longer finds her beautiful?

Toufic (Elie Mitri) seems to live a perfect life, according to his best friend Adel. He has a gorgeous wife, Carla (Nada Abou Farhat) and has a good time on the side with his hot colleague. Carla – who isn’t as naive as Toufic thinks – starts to wonder if she is truly living in a fairy tale, or if her supposedly idyllic relationship is just based on illusions.

“Reasons to Be Pretty” seems to be the perfect play for Lebanese audiences, who always have the urge to look beautiful and to try every single cosmetic procedure. Maroun’s play will encourage spectators to consider whether their judgments of people’s success are based only on their looks or on something deeper. It will also examine the functioning of human relationships, and how misunderstandings and hearsay can destroy the trust between two people.

Jacques Maroun’s “Reasons to Be Pretty” will be up at Masrah al-Madina starting Oct. 19. For more information, please call 01-753-010.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 09, 2012, on page 16.

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