As International day for theater celebrated in YemenBringing spirit to Yemen’s dying theater [Archives:2003/633/Culture]

April 27 2003

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The 27th of March of every year is the day marked as the International Day for Theater and is celebrated all around the world. Yemen too celebrated this day last March although the concept of 'theater' is not really a popular one here. This could be attributed to the fact that no theater sector in the true sense exist in Yemen today. But the theater in Yemen is somewhat very limited and humble. Yemen's theater had a relative share of attention and several acts were conducted in the past years. Experiences although few and small in scale, have been praised to be of class and professionalism that inspired many working in the field to not abandon this neglected sector.
The idea is that Yemen, as many developing countries, suffers from many social and economic problems that affect its people's priorities and their inclination towards entertainment. When you are hardly making ends meet, your most priority will certainly not be watching a theatrical play, especially with the current worries and circumstances that Yemeni people are sharing with the rest of the Arab world in terms of the war on Iraq. As a matter of fact, many Yemenis have been going about their lives in a routine manner looking at the local and international events unfolding in front of them believing that what William Shakespeare's once said, “Life is a play” is true indeed.
Many who are related to the theater industry in Yemen disagree on the real challenges facing the theater business today. However, they do agree that this sector is facing a lot of difficulties. Main problems are represented in lack of resources, lack of proper theaters for the plays, lack of experience that one would fall back upon to produce master pieces, lack of good scripts and professional cadre and most importantly the lack of commitment by the authorities to revive this sector. The negligence that theater is suffering from in Yemen has resulted in putting it at risk of total collapse.
In harmony with the preparation to hopefully make Sana'a the Cultural Capital of the Arab World in a few years, the government has been seen exerting efforts and paying more attention to the theater as explained by related authorities in the Ministry of Culture. Where in the grand plan that had been set forward, the theater has had a good share of attention and planned development recently. Hoping that by establishing an infrastructure and encouraging theater lovers to work on reviving this sector, the government is working to promote the arts industry in Yemen as a whole and the theater industry in particular. Hence the celebration of the international day for theater meant a little more than inviting some intellectuals and those interested in theater to a small gathering this year. But perhaps it gives a little of a glance into a brighter future and a gleaming ray of hope for this neglected sector.