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Performing Arts Program brings award-winning playwright to AUS
American University of Sharjah (AUS) hosted a series of evenings called 8 at 7, from May 8-11, featuring short plays by Tom Coash, winner of the AUS Middle Eastern Playwriting Competition.
The first AUS Middle Eastern Playwriting Competition, an international short play competition, was conducted by the theatre program at AUS in the summer of 2011. The competition, open to playwrights from all over the world, had professional and student playwrights from four continents submitting manuscripts. All the entries had to be based on themes related to Middle-Eastern culture.
The winning one-act plays were Veils and Khalass, which deal with very real and important contemporary social issues and made for compelling educational rehearsal and presentation material. Both plays were written by Tom Coash, an American playwright and director, who attended the first performance of 8 at 7 to accept his award as the first winner of the playwriting competition.
Coash has worked for theatres such as the Manhattan Theatre Club and his plays have been produced around the world and have won numerous playwriting awards. He is currently working on a full-length version of Veils under a grant from the InterAct Theatre of Philadelphia.
The other six plays featured in 8 at 7 were written by students in Theatre Appreciation between 2008 and 2011 and the production included the work of more than 60 students in acting, design, stage management and technical theatre.
"This has been the most 'real' production I've worked on. This isn't little red riding hood, or a 49-year-old lady in the UK with nine kids. I play an adventurous girl in a place facing an issue quite familiar to me; it was definitely challenging to maintain this sense of 'reality' that this show possesses," said student Maha Dahlan.
For Nissreen Al Mansouri, "Working on these plays made me discover inner talents I had not had the chance to discover."
The plays resonated with the students as they were cohesive in that they presented themes and ideas that are quite common in daily life, small slices of life and bits and pieces of events that occur daily in the UAE and beyond.
"The success of the AUS Middle Eastern Playwriting Competition demonstrates the Performing Arts Program's interest in advancing new ideas and exploring regional culture," said Anthony Tassa, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Performing Arts Program, and director of 8 at 7.