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Nabil Sawalha on why he acts, theater’s decline

In this undated photo, Jordanian actor Nabil Sawalha can be seen. The actor recently spoke with Jordan News about his career and the state of theater in Jordan. (Photo: JNews)
AMMAN — Jordanian actor, Nabil Sawalha has dedicated himself to exploring life’s secrets, knowledge, and experiences he recently told Jordan News.  اضافة اعلان

Sawalha was born in 1941 into an “open-minded family”, as he described it. He obtained a degree in engineering in the United Kingdom, but his introduction to art began at a young age. His older brother Nadim Sawalha, a well-known actor in Britain, used to encourage his family members to pursue art.

“My brother Nadim used to do imagination theater work at home, and I was only five years old at the time,” Sawalha said. “One time my brother urged me to enter the field of acting. As he told me: ‘Every actor can be an engineer, but not every engineer can become an actor’.”

In his view, the main goal of art is to reflect on the sadness and the hardness of people’s lives. “Acting expresses negative phenomena in a comic way, to be more acceptable to people,” he explained, adding that much of what he says when acting would not be accepted unless it was hidden behind a smile.

In his acting roles, Sawalha tries to teach the audience something new. “For example, in one of my series, “Baini wa Bainak,” I gave (the audience) a moral lesson in every scene,” he said. “That is the real role of acting.”

“Baini wa Bainak” (which translates to “Between me and you”), released in 1980, and represented Sawalha’s professional breakthrough.

Sawalha has also received acclaim for his partnership with Hisham Yanes, including on a play called “Ahlan Nabil Wa Hisham,” (“Welcome Nabil and Hisham”).

Yanes is a refugee from Palestine and Sawalha is a Jordanian citizen from Madaba. The two have different personal backgrounds, but have been affected by similar experiences, such as political events, wars, and demonstrations. These events produced unique experiences that the actor said led to the need for artistic expression.

“Our existence in that place at that time participated in our success,” Sawalha said of his partnership with Yanes, which began in the 1990s. Their artistic freedom was supported by the late King Hussein, who once witnessed Yanes imitating King Hussein during a performance.

Sawalha said that art and theater are never perishable, arguing that in every country there are many circumstances that contribute to strengthening or weakening the theater. He said that shuttered borders between Arab countries was a factor that has led to the decline of theater in region.

Sawalha emphasized the need for governmental support to help Jordanian theater recover culturally, adding that in Syria and Egypt, the government is very aware of the importance of the dramatic arts. “It has a message on the cultural level, and it has another importance to the national income.”

“All we need is a supported project to create a new theater that reflects on people’s lives and problems,”