On the Occasion of the International Day of Theatre Theatre in Yemen, Experience and Ambitions [Archives:1999/16/Culture]

April 19 1999

Theatre is the nations’ language; the much concern it receives the higher the society could rise. Theatre criticizes bad habits and offers the good ones. For live nations it represents a school to educate generations for the vital art that awakens conscious and opens minds. As a nation that still traces the past we need more than one theatre to enhance the important of its message. 
In the past, theatre was founded as simple as possible to express man’s drama resulted from confrontation between him and natural powers that were difficult to be understood besides controlling such powers and subjecting them to his interests and desires. 
Talking about theatre in Yemen we should reply to two questions with loyalty and objectivity, they are: 
1. Have theatre in Yemen succeeded as an experience and achieved its ambition? 
2. What are the necessary steps and substantial basis to have a developed theatre movement in Yemen? 
For the first question, we could say that theatre experience in Yemen, for professional or immature, has accomplished many achievements and success through its long journey started in 1910 up to 1987. This experience gave its role in forming number of playgroups, official and private, and introducing this art to the public where the later began to visit such shows and reacts with them. 
Despite the long history of this experience and its huge achievements, theatre was not given its fair chance or practiced its real rights. Theatre remained unstable, between success and failure; it did not pass the stage of experience to a stage of practical construction and development. Therefore theatre couldn’t reach its goals or achieve its moral, social and cultural ambitions besides finding wide understanding audience to acknowledge its abilities and to create a case of initiation. 
It is quite obvious that the incapability of theatre in Yemen to achieve its ambitions has some logical reasons within the whole case of obstacles, they are as follows: 
1. Bad programming and planning 
Having no regular well planned theatre seasons besides inefficient periods of time for the plays limits the creative abilities of the actors and the directors which affect the play negatively and create an obstacle against audience who could feel the theatre’s cultural and artistic reality. 
2. Plays usually submit to official occasion: 
Having no regular play programs and usually connecting such shows with official occasions and publicity purposes. A basic factor of creating a theatre crisis and disabled its activities and development. Therefore such situation should be changed and the connection between plays and official occasions should be stopped. Only then the theatre could reach the audience and develop its performance and reaction with the people. 
3. No specialized places for plays equipped with basic necessary facilities. 
There is no doubt that well equipped play centers play an important role in the success of the show. 
4. Officials could not understand or comprehend the real role of theatre. 
It is well known that nations civilizations are measured with their sciences, acknowledgment and arts, theatre represents one of the civilized faces of nations, but unfortunately misunderstanding the real concept of theatre and its important messages caused fatal withdraw of the literary and cultural movement. 
5. No official concern or care are paid to theatre where it could achieve its ambitions, such matter resulted many things such as: 
– No encouragement to artistic groups to participate in Arab festivals whenever there is a chance. 
– No encouragement to literary writers and authors. 
– No permission to create immature groups with total independence. 
– Theatre subject is not included among educational programs, besides no play groups formations in schools with special festivals at the end of each studying year. 
6. No plays criticism. Objective play criticism based on accurate scientific bases would perform an important and active role in improving the level of writing, raise the level of creation and support the theatre message with all human and social concepts. 
While the second question’s answer would be: If theatre movement in Yemen needs to be improved and take its pioneering role in renewing the national culture and revolutionary acts, or to stand on developed artistic basis the following factors has to be provided: 
1.The State and concerned officials should pay more attention to theatre, directing this move to implement active roles in educating wide audience to achieve their ambitions and dreams of social construction and moral improvement and civilized progress. Such terms are featured in the following: 
A.Laying out well-planned annual program to organize theatre seasons guarantee a case of continuousness with audience and apart from publicity purposes. 
B. Need to form people’s play group and another one as a travelling group with a task of presenting plays at the rural areas of Yemen. 
C. Necessity of having a child theatre for the importance in the upbringing and education process. 
Stressing on the idea that theatre represents science, culture and civilization, not as some narrow minded considered such art as a distortion and an act of the devils. 
D. Play Groups should have more freedom in moving from one place to another for the purpose of presenting their shows in all over the country and not limiting their performances in the capital and big cities. 
In conclusion theatre movement in Yemen can take one the following contradictory paths: 
Either taking the direction of commercial theatre depending on clowning and joking for the purpose of fast material gain which resulted into a weak-structured theatre with no potentials to achieve its ambitions and goals. 
Or take the direction of serious national theatre basing on real mature tradition and moral concepts aims to improve the level of Yemeni citizen, connecting him/her with the human heritage and express his/her feelings of pain and sorrows, trying to solve daily problems that imposes the development process he/she look forward to obtain, destroying backwardness ties and change the false reality resulted from the influence of colonization before the revolution. This will lead to constructing a developed Yemeni theatre movement.