With the inception of The One World Actors Centre, theater in Kuwait found a new home and opportunity, as the not-for-profit social enterprise continues to enhance the theatrical cultural exchange and sponsorship of young artists in Kuwait. The Centre’s journey in Kuwait has taken its performing companies to great heights, most recently participating and performing Antigone: An Arabian Tragedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last August. For Eléni Rebecca, the talented actress, director and choreographer considers her role as Managing Director of The One World Actors Centre as a personal investment, and a whirlwind journey filled with adventure at the same time.
Eléni Rebecca shares her deeply rooted passion for the theater with her mother Alison Shan Price. She said, “I come from a theatrical family, so performing arts have always been prominent in my life. My mother (Alison Shan Price) started the Kuwait Acting Speech Theatre (KAST) in 1999 and bought LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) Speech and Performance Examinations to the region in 2001. She currently acts as Executive Director for One World Actors Centre, a position held after thirty years in the performing arts industry in Kuwait. I believe her drive and determination to further the arts instilled a passion within me to continue to pursue the dream.” Eléni herself was a child of the theater, taking LAMDA examinations while growing up in Kuwait. She currently holds the Performance Certificate that allows her to train students up to the age of 14 in the field of performing arts. In doing so, Eléni gives back to the community that she grew up in, ensuring that a young passion for the theater is nurtured rather than ignored.
The decision to pursue a career in performing arts came naturally. Eléni enrolled in Loughborough University in the UK to study Drama and English, which offered incredible opportunities in the development of her performance craft, especially backstage and costume design. After graduating in 2013, she returned to Kuwait and took on the role of Managing Director for One World Actors Centre, where Eléni also performed or was personally involved in all of the organization’s events and productions. She said, “Whether it’s performing onstage in a Shakespearean production such as Much Ado About Nothing or Romeo & Juliet, choreographing Evita, or directing adults (Alice In Wonderland: 2014) and children (A Little Princess: 2015), there has never been a moment where I have not been 100% involved with an event at One World Actors Centre. It is an experience like no other and I highly recommend anyone that is passionate about the arts to come and get involved.”
The One World Actors Centre is especially known for its multicultural companies, where artists from over thirty-five countries from around the world come together to perform. From acting, mime, physical theater, dance to musical theater, the Centre continues to create spectacular performances that exude an inimitable quality. The company recently participated at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with an incredible
performance of Antigone: An Arabian Tragedy at the picturesque Greenside Venue at Nicholson Square from the 10th to the 15th of August, having to raise awareness and advertise the play to thousands of passersby. While this was the company’s first international venture, Eléni believes that the learning experience is unlike anything the company previously experienced. She said, “I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who loves the arts. It is something you will never forget. It was fascinating how Antigone: An Arabian Tragedy affected audience members. Spoken in two languages (English and Arabic), it was reportedly incredibly easy to follow, allowing the viewer to experience the story from both angles. It received a four-star review from premiere online reviewer Broadway Baby and was one of the ‘Top Picks at the Edinburgh Festival’ for the Alwaleed Centre for its representation of Arabian Culture. While we take for granted the melting pot of cultures that appear in Kuwait, it was surprising to see how dramatically this affected audiences. It really reminded me that Kuwait is unique in how different cultures meld and blend so harmoniously together here.”
Eléni believes that Kuwaiti theater is a reflection of Kuwait’s multiculturalism, “It is unique to Kuwait, a kaleidoscope of different backgrounds, cultures and influences. I believe that the scene is successfully developing through the ventures of every performing institution or artist currently in Kuwait. It is a pleasure to be a part of it and how it is developing.” Eléni’s personal dream role is Katerina from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, while her favorite role that she performed to date has been Beatrice in Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, which was performed by the Centre at the British Embassy in March 2014. The Shakespeare aficionado also tells bazaar about the Centre’s many upcoming projects, “We are in the process of holding auditions for our upcoming productions: Around The World In 80 Days with Crowne Plaza Kuwait (a musical evening in two installments, taking place in November 2015 and June 2016); A Lion In Winter and of course, our 5th Annual Shakespeare Festival.”
With the success of Antigone: An Arabian Tragedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Eléni wishes for the Centre to expand the international opportunities for artists in Kuwait. The Centre is entering many projects into local Gulf Festivals, as well as developing new writing and performance art. Auditions will soon be open for their upcoming productions of Around The World In 80 Days and The Shakespeare Festival 2016, so stay tuned!
Up close and personal questionnaire:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A surprise plane ticket, a backpack, a head full of creative ideas and a heart full of adventure.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Getting my hair dyed! I have been through the entire color spectrum, from jet-black to silver-white.
What is it that you most dislike?
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to fly. That’s a talent, right?
If you could have any job, what would it be?
I’m very grateful to be able to live my professional dreams, so I guess the one I already have.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Being part of the Box Office team that was able to sell out the star-studded musical extravaganza A Night In The West End (held at The British Embassy, 2014) was pretty incredible. We literally had two weeks between the show being originally advertised to its opening night to sell 800 tickets, which was no mean feat. I am very proud of that and privileged to have been part of the team that made it happen.
Where would you most like to live?
Wherever the heart is: that is home.
For more information, visit oneworldactorscentre.org.