- Title: British actress Vanessa Redgrave visits Lebanon to mark famous school centenary
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: MORE OF PERFORMANCE
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 11:38
- Keywords: Lebanon Theatre Vanessa Redgrave A world I loved Wadad Makdessi Cortas
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Theatre
- Reuters ID: LVA00552G80GL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:British actress, Vanessa Redgrave took part in a performance co-written by her and the daughter of famous Lebanese author, Wadad Makdisi Cortas at the school where Cortas was headmistress many years ago.
The performance marked the school's centenary celebration.
Born in Beirut in 1909, Wadad Makdisi Cortas wrote, 'A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman' which was published in Arabic in the late 1960's. It went on to become a popular textbook in Lebanon.
Redgrave, an Oscar winning actress, said she read the book and instantly fell in love with it, encouraging her to turn it into a performance with the help of Cortas's daughter, Mariam Cortas Said who had gifted her the book.
''We performed this adaptation of the book 'A world I loved' it premiered in Brighton, England in 1912, and we performed it for the public theatre, 2012 yeah, and we performed it for the public theatre in in New York one year later and this is the third time we will be performing it,'' said Said at a news conference a few days before the performance.
The book upon which the play is based tells the story of an Arab woman, and begins in 1917. It touches on themes to do with Arab identity and religious tolerance, as well as Cortas's struggles to become the Principal of the Lebanese school.
Redgrave insisted on travelling to Beirut for the centenary of al-Ahliah School for Girls in Beirut.
''I cannot say with sufficient warmth, how wonderful it is to be spiritually and physically, for me to be part of this centennial. I am very conscious of the hundred years. I am very conscious of the wonderful achievements and of the terrors. I am very conscious amongst those achievements where men and women whose names we don't hear of anymore who were part of the Arab Renaissance,'' said the film and TV star.
The narrative performance included Redgrave herself, together with Said, Najla Said --Cortas's granddaughter and British actor, Nadim sawalha.
They were joined by musicians and a choir from the school itself in addition to singers from the Lebanese American University.
''I consider this very important, because it shows Lebanon's history, that unfortunately our history books in schools don't show it, and don't clarify it. We study Germany's history, American history, European history and France's history etc... But our history we are afraid to show it, how it is. This play first of all gets history closer to the heart; second of all it shows the realities, how people see it, not as someone wants to show it or the other,'' said Cortas's son, Nadim Cortas who is chairperson of the school's board of trustees.
The show lasted over two hours and many in the audience praised the production and the famed Lebanese author.
''One of Lebanon's flags, an idol to Lebanese woman or females, because from simple individual effort, she made an institution that is present until today and it achieved this much and at the same time conserved its Lebanese character. The Lebanese personality is still present in it,'' said social activist, Mariam Geagea Moubassali.
Redgrave and Said said they hoped the event had immersed the audience in the world of Wadad Makdisi, a bygone era of Arab history which may hold solutions to the future.
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