The Organizing Committee of the First Theater Festival of Saudi Universities, which will be hosted by King Khalid University from the 10th to the 14th of December, has unveiled the features of the festival, which is considered the first of its kind that gathers innovators in the theatre field in Saudi Universities in the presence of the Minister of Education, His Excellency, Dr. Ahmed Al-Issa. In a press conference held yesterday evening at the branch of the Association of Culture and Arts in Abha, the Committee pointed out that this festival, which will be attended by nine theater groups representing a number of Saudi Universities, formed to activate the partnership agreement between the University and the Association of Culture and Arts in Abha.
The Festival Director, Dr. Mohammed Al-Mubarak, asserted that it would be a platform to showcase the university students’ creativity and to invest in their potential and theater skills. He added with certainty that it will enhance the student’s self-confidence and develop teamwork skills. The Director further praised the great support that the festival receives from the Governor of the Aseer Region, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdul-Aziz and from His Excellency the Minister of Education, who was keen to attend the opening ceremony.
For his part, the Vice-President of the Festival, who is also the Director of the Culture and Arts Association, Mr. Ahmed Al-Sarawi, said that the Association of Culture and Arts in Abha is pleased to participate with the University in organizing this festival, which is a definite qualitative shift of theatrical activity in the Aseer region in particular and in the Kingdom in general.
For the preparations that have been done for the success of the festival, the Director of the festival stated, during the press conference, that during the period of receiving the submissions, 19 performances were presented by different universities throughout the Kingdom. Nine of them were accepted after being evaluated by the Viewing Committee including the performance of King Khalid University. Mr. Al-Mubarak stressed that accepted performances were implemented only by University students. He added that the performances would occur in three theaters, including the King Khalid Theater, Qaryqar, Laasan Theater and the Community College Theater in Mahala.
Regarding the participating universities, Mr. Al-Mubarak pointed out that The University of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University participated in a play entitled "Al-Kataytab", King Faisal University in a play named "Al-Haqiqi", the University of Taiba with a play named "Thoqob" and the University of Jeddah with "Don’t Shot on a SnapShot." King Faisal University participated with a play named "Al-Hasemah" the University of Jazan with "Station Does not Leave," King Khalid University with "Beyond the Darkness," King Saud University with "Makasson" and Taif University with "Coffin." Mr. Al-Mubarak further revealed that the festival will honor several influential figures in the fields of University Theater and Saudi Theater in general, and there will be practical seminars after each presentation, in addition to two seminars about the theater, the first on University Theater and the other on Saudi Theater, presented by a number of specialists in the field of theater, in addition to many other accompanying events.
In response to a media question about the expected participation, Dr. Maree El Habash said that the number of students participation throughout the Kingdom exceeds 100 students and that the theaters of performances accepted all categories of society.
About the partnership with the Culture and Arts Association, Al-Habash commented that it is considered one of the most successful partnerships and memorandums of understanding signed by the University in the field of the theater because of the expertise of the association. He added that the University is interested in developing the skills of its students through theatrical activity and providing many specialized courses in directing, acting and writing dramatic texts to refine the students' abilities.
As for the caveats that may obscure any participation, Al-Habash explained that the university has opened the way for all performances that do not contradict the values, customs and public morals that do not affect the public opinion, stressing the commitment of all participants to do so by presenting them to the viewing committee. He further related that he wishes the festival will continue in all Saudi Universities in the future.
As for the standards and technical requirements of the shows, the Vice-President of the Festival, Mr. Ahmed Al-Sarawi, confirmed that they conform to all of the requirements and standards known in theatrical festivals in the Kingdom. Among these standards is that the show must be suitable for the youth recipient category with a minimum acceptable technical level. One-artist shows were declined due to the difficulty of evaluation next to other group performances. Lastly, the participation of the theater of the child was declined as it doesn’t meet with the target group young people.