Following its successful debut in London’s West End late last year, Rest Upon the Wind, a theatrical chronicle of the life of revered poet, painter and philosopher Gibran Khalil Gibran, is currently touring the Middle East.
Having just added Jordan and Dubai to its repertoire of sold-out shows, scriptwriter Nadim Sawalha’s adaptation of the Lebanese-American poet’s journey from a struggling immigrant in America to the third best-selling poet of all time, lives true to its acclaim.
The eight member cast delivers a humorous, yet convincing depiction of the primary characters that shaped Gibran’s life; from the theatrically gifted Dina Mousawi playing Gibran’s sister Myrianna, to eight year old Samer Roz who plays Gibran as a child.
The curtain falls to a scene of the protagonist seated amidst a group of actors representing the masses, reading reverentially verses from The Prophet – reflective of the impact his parables of poetic genius and how they still resound 80 years after Gibran Khalil Gibran’s demise.
Shaahima Fahim caught up with Ali Matar, Producer of Rest Upon The Wind for a little more insight into this exciting play and to find out more about the producer himself.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in theatre.
I am from Lebanon, lived most of my life in London, and now reside in Dubai. My educational background is in engineering where I obtained a Ph.D from London South Bank University but decided to follow a career based around entertainment instead. I have been a member of the Independent Theatre Council (London) since 2010 and involved in the entertainment business since 1997, producing many concerts at the Royal Albert Hall (London) and theatres across the country.
Give us a brief synopsis of Rest upon the Wind. How would you rate its success so far?
Rest Upon The Wind is a theatrical play written by Nadim Sawalha and directed by Tanushka Marah. The play, inspired by the life and times of Gibran Khalil Gibran, sold out all shows in London’s West End and was hailed a big success by the theatre owners and audience.
This play portrays the struggle of Gibran as an immigrant in America and the woman, Mary Haskell, who was pivotal in the success of The Prophet, Gibran's book which has sold over 100 million copies and has been translated to over 44 languages worldwide.
The audience would have probably read the famous works of Gibran, but not so much about the man himself. The play covers the significant parts of his life during childhood up to the last days of his life in New York. Once the audience watches this play, they will walk out knowing more about Gibran's life story. It is portrayed on stage in a humorous way, which will leave the audience highly entertained.
Why did you decide to take up production of a play on Khalil Gibran? Have you been fond of his works yourself?
I've been extremely fond of his works since a very young age. There had also been no theatrical performance on Gibran previously, so I thought that it would be a great opportunity to put something together that would allow people know more about the man himself.
Do you believe that the fact that the play is more light-hearted than solemn has anything to do with its success?
Its main success has primarily been around the fact that people want to know more about Gibran and theatre is a great way to relay that message.
How long did it take to perfect the play and make it stage-ready from start to finish?
It’s taken about 3 years to put together from start to finish.
What were the challenges you faced in the making of RUTW, and as a theatre producer in general?
Overall, it’s been great. I had planned way ahead of time for everything from auditioning, workshops, rehearsals and booking venues. The toughest task is dealing with the travel plans and making sure the tour dates don’t change.
It's been nearly a year since it first showed to sold-out theatres in London. What made you decide to bring the production to the Middle East? Do you expect a similar reaction?
Gibran Khalil Gibran was from the Middle East and it was necessary that the first leg of the tour commenced here.
Many consider theatre a reprieve from the trials of daily life. What role would you say theatre plays in the general psyche of the average person?
Theatre brings out creativity in a way that no other sport can. It’s a fun way to understand a subject and brings people together where they could debate and share ideas after the show. This in itself is a great thing to build character through the form of art.
What's next in the pipeline for both yourself and RUTW?
I will be taking Rest Upon The Wind on a world tour. Next on the pipeline is to have shows in five cities across Europe.
The last show of the Middle East tour is to take place in Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, this Saturday the 27thof October at 8pm. Tickets for the show can be bought at Time Out Dubai.
For more information on Rest Upon The Wind visit www.GibranThePlay.com