Culture

Contemporary Lebanon: A musical comedy

BEIRUT: With theaters getting back into the swing of things following a relaxing of pandemic restrictions, playwright Samer Hanna found he was finally able to stage his new musical, a year on from its creation.

Directed by Sany Abdul Baki, “Halaa: The Musical” has been enjoying a lengthy run at Hamra’s Masrah al-Madina.

“I first wrote the play in April 2020, so it’s been a year and three months and we’ve rehearsed since then,” Hanna told The Daily Star. “Like a lot of people, we have to postpone a lot because of the situation in Lebanon, but we’re finally at the point where we can perform on stage.

“It’s a musical comedy about six neighbors who used to be really close in high school but fell out of touch over the years and are in their late 20s now,” he added. “For reasons that I won’t spoil now, they have to quarantine together for about two days in one apartment in the building.

“We get to see how all these different characters, who haven’t been friends for a while, have changed a lot to an extreme point, and having to deal and live with each other for two days.”

Written during Lebanon’s first 2020 lockdown, the musical includes many of the real life issues that people found themselves facing during those isolated months. Other problems related to the Lebanon of today are also sprinkled into the mix.

“I think every person who’s going to come to watch the play is going to be able to relate and see themselves in one of the characters at some point,” Hanna said. “They’re going to relate with having family members and friends who had to leave the country and then came back, to the people who had to stay home and quarantine without anyone helping them.

“Viewers will see a girl forced to stay home the entire day with the parents because the government said so, but are not helping her at the same time,” he added. “There’s the young man who was forced to emigrate to continue his education but came back for a visit and is now stuck because the airport closed. We see how much we were afraid for our parents, trying to wrap our head around this alien disease that came from nowhere.”

“Halaa” is Hanna’s second musical theater piece, the first being “Yamma Mia,” the popular Arabic adaption of the Broadway musical “Mamma Mia.” Josyane Boulos acted as a production consultant for the show, hoping to help young dramatist stay in the country. This second play is an original work, which Hanna was excited to score.

“I think that music can deliver a range of emotions really well and I love to work on that,” he said. “We’re all fresh theater graduates and we’re all surviving through this and are happy to be able to do what we love, despite all these factors affecting Lebanon.”

“Halaa: The Musical” runs until July 18 on Hamra Street’s Masrah al-Madina. For ticketing, see: antoineticketing.com/?event_id=9704

 

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