Watch London theatre present goals to painting Rumi authentically | News – Al Jazeera English News


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London, United Kingdom – In a big room of the Royal Shakespeare Firm’s London-based quarters, a rehearsal ensemble will get to work.

Nadim Namaan, a British-Lebanese singer, actor and author Dana Al Fardan, often known as Qatar’s first feminine composer, and a largely Center Jap, North African, and South Asian forged and crew are knee-deep in last preparations for Rumi: the Musical, a stage manufacturing which brings to life the story of Jalal al-Din Rumi, the revered Persian poet.

Rumi expressed his ideologies by way of music and dance, Namaan, who performs Rumi, informed Al Jazeera throughout a break from the rehearsals, “the components of musical theatre”.

The thought for the play sprang to life when the staff determined to “take his text and make scenes and songs … and see what happens,” Namaan mentioned.

Identified merely as Rumi, the Sufi poet’s aphorisms are quoted endlessly within the West – discovered within the lyrics of songs by pop stars from Madonna to Coldplay, on paraphernalia offered online, or scattered on social media messages hoping to encourage.

However Rumi, nonetheless the best-selling poet within the US as we speak as a consequence of translations of his work by Coleman Barks within the mid-70s, is commonly stripped of his Muslim id.

It’s the genuine Rumi that Namaan and Al Fardan hope to carry audiences worldwide – performed by those that characterize the area he was from.

“Across the Middle East … there are many fans of the arts and many fans of theatre, but they spent their whole life only seeing Western stories on stage,” mentioned Namaan.

“We thought we would see what would happen if we incorporated that style with iconic figures from the arts and literary scenes of the Middle East.”

The forged of ‘Rumi: the Musical’ throughout a rehearsal at London’s Royal Shakespeare Firm [Urooba Jamal/Al Jazeera]

‘Play seeks to dispel stereotypes’

Al Fardan, who’s often primarily based in Doha, hopes the play dispels Western stereotypes of the area.

“There’s a lot of engagement with current contemporary Middle Eastern figures that are … extremist, but you don’t get these universally accessible … beautiful thoughts associated with the Middle East [in] Western media,” Al Fardan informed Al Jazeera.

The musical is predicated on a novel written by Evren Sharma and its 20 songs are impressed by Rumi’s poetry.

The manufacturing follows an precedent days of Rumi’s life, earlier than his many many years as a poet, that Namaan mentioned helps to humanise the deified determine.

It recounts Rumi’s encounter with the mystic often known as Shams of Tabriz and its aftermath. The 2 are rumoured to have had a love affair, at the same time as Rumi was married with two kids.

When Shams disappeared, Rumi turned to poetry, writing hundreds of poems devoted to him, the Prophet Muhammad and God.

The remainder of the forged contains Ramin Karimloo, an Iranian-Canadian Tony-nominated actor who performs Shams, in addition to different younger actors.

Benjamin Armstrong performs Sayyed, a follower and pal of Rumi in ‘Rumi: the Musical’ [Urooba Jamal/Al Jazeera]

A primary for Hamad

Ahmed Hamad, who performs Rumi’s son Aladdin, mentioned that in rehearsals, he felt free to introduce himself with a non-Anglicised pronunciation of his identify.

“Usually, there’s one or two people of ethnicity in musicals,” Hamad, whose heritage is Sudanese, informed Al Jazeera. “To look around and see a full room of creative people that look like you … it’s so heartwarming.”

Benjamin Armstrong, who has Sri Lankan ancestry and performs Sayyed, a pal and follower of Rumi, is making his debut on the West Finish.

“There’s nothing else that I want to be doing,” he mentioned, whereas celebrating being a part of a various forged.

The musical builds on the success of Al Fardan and Namaan’s 2018 present Damaged Wings, primarily based on a novel by the Lebanese poet and author Kahlil Gibran. That manufacturing, which returns to London in January after a pandemic pause, helped the duo uncover an urge for food for Center Jap icons.

“Dana and I as a team we represent … so many exchanges: one male, one female, one Christian, one Muslim, one based in Europe, one based in the Middle East,” mentioned Namaan. “We want to promote that. We want to show what happens when the Middle East and the West join forces.”

Rumi the Musical will likely be enjoying on the London Coliseum on November 23 and 24.

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